Gareth Bale described the criticism he has been the subject of as a Real Madrid player as “disgusting” after leading Wales into a World Cup play-off final.
Bale has played in just five of Madrid’s 42 matches in all competitions this season, totalling 270 minutes on the field – the equivalent of three whole games.
Once the most expensive player in world football, the winger was absent for Madrid’s most recent match, a painful 4-0 defeat to bitter rivals Barcelona.
However, Bale was back and back to his best when Wales came calling on Thursday.
The 32-year-old captained his country to a 2-1 win against Austria in their play-off semi-final, scoring two sublime goals – the first a breathtaking free-kick.
Bale appeared to play through the pain barrier in a brilliant display, eventually making way while holding his groin.
The former Tottenham man appeared to enjoy the celebrations, but his tone shifted slightly when asked if he had a message for his critics in Spain.
“No,” he told Sky Sports. “I don’t need to send a message, honestly. It’s a waste of my time.
“It’s disgusting, they should all be ashamed of themselves. I’m not fussed. End of.”
Bale has come into form at a great time for Wales, scoring five goals in his past four international appearances – more than in his previous 28 games for his country (four).
In European qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, only five players have been involved in more goals than Bale’s eight (five goals, three assists).
Wales will play either Scotland or Ukraine for a place in Qatar, with that decider at home, where Bale and Co. are unbeaten in 17 games in all competitions.