At a glance
After making his mark with Tottenham in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League, Bale became the world's most expensive footballer when he joined Real Madrid in summer 2013 for a reported world-record fee of €100m. Now balancing the pressures of performing in the Spanish capital with those of being the driving force behind Wales's new-found success, Bale, 26, has taken everything thrown at him in his formidable stride. With a game built upon incredible pace and power, there are a string of international records set to be broken in the coming years. Off the pitch, his modesty only adds to the popularity of the national team's undoubted star.
Fast-tracked through the international system like so many of his current team-mates under former manager John Toshack, Bale played for the Under-17, U19, U21 and senior sides during the 2005/06 campaign, making his full Welsh debut in May 2006 at the age of 16 years and 315 days. His first international goal arrived in October that year – against Slovakia in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying – and he remains Wales's youngest-ever scorer. Now something of a veteran in Chris Coleman's young team after 54 appearances and 19 goals, Bale contributed seven of Wales's 11 goals in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying and also chipped in with two assists.
What he offers
Importance for Wales
Practically immeasurable. The talisman of the side, with his presence alone often providing Wales with the psychological edge over opponents. He registered match-winning goals against Andorra, Belgium and Cyprus in his free role behind the striker to ensure Wales qualified as Group B runners-up. A proud and passionate Welshman, Bale defines a group of players currently considered to be Wales's golden generation. "For every player that comes into the team he is an inspiration," said manager Coleman following Bale's brace against Cyprus last March. "We know what he can give us and he is the kind of guy that will never fail you."
Debut: Wales 2-1 Trinidad & Tobago, 27 May 2006 (friendly)
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