The manner of Wales’ Euro 2020 exit will have left them feeling hurt and wounded. Questions surrounding Gareth Bale’s future seem even more pressing, especially after he stormed off from a pitch-side interview in the wake of Wales’ 4-0 defeat at the hands of Denmark in the Round of 16. To a certain extent, it was always going to be a challenge to summon up and surpass the achievement of Euro 2016 where Wales reached the semi-finals. Indeed, Wales wasn’t trading well in the odds for Euro 2020 before the tournament began. But what is next for Wales, and Gareth Bale? We hope to answer these questions in this piece.
Leader and influencer
For such a long time, Bale has led from the front for Wales. With 96 caps to his name, Bale’s experience can’t be understated. Although he went the entirety of Euro 2020 goalless, Bale knows how to rally the side, and he has become a poster boy for his country.
Along with Aaron Ramsey, Bale has been instrumental, and he has dragged Wales through games over the years when they were staring down a black hole. Bale has contributed so much to the national team, and he was one of the surviving members of the memorable Euro 2016 campaign
Bale provides Wales with dynamism and guile, and along with Ramsey, they have breathed life into a Wales team that until Euro 2016, were in the doldrums.
Player of a generation
For Wales, John Charles aside, Bale has been a rare breed. He is one of those players that only comes along once in a lifetime, and he has left an indelible mark at the international level. While he may be ridiculed at times for seeming to prefer to play golf over football, his record speaks itself.
The 31-year-old remains a talisman, and he has scored 33 times for Wales during his international career, averaging over one goal every three games.
Wales fans should feel privileged for seeing Bale at his best, and while Euro 2020 wasn’t meant to be for him, it was still another significant stepping stone for Robert Page’s men.
Perhaps the taste of international tournament football has left Bale hungry for more, and now the main priority will be qualifying for the World Cup in 2022.
Does retirement beckon?
At this moment in time, we are no clearer to knowing whether Euro 2020 will represent Bale’s last major international tournament. Nevertheless, Bale’s impact has been immense, and Wales would be a lot poorer without him.
Bale’s experience remains crucial, and for some players, they don’t want to leave the international scene with any regrets. Of course, retirement is on the horizon, and Bale isn’t getting any younger.
Wales is in safe hands, and they have a young squad, which will continue to thrive in the future. This Wales side is trending in the right direction, and tournament football is always alluring. Bale, it seems, will want to have a final say before walking away for good.