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Real Madrid star Gareth Bale eyes fourth Champions League medal and admits: 'It'll be hard to control myself if I hit the winner against Tottenham'

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Bale is in relaxed mood despite the sweltering Madrid summer heat.

He has just surprised a group of local schoolchildren who knew they were coming to a sports centre on the outskirts of the city to be part of a Champions League commercial but didn't realise Bale was going to be here.

Some of the jaws are still dropped and the eyes still wide open in disbelief. They are an easy crowd. It hasn't always been that way in the last 12 months.

To listen to some of Bale's critics at the start of this season you would think those Champions League winners' medals fell into his lap while he sat watching from the sidelines. It's been conveniently forgotten by some that he got the winning goal in the 2014 final and was a man-of-the-match contender in 2016.

Injury meant he was only a substitute in last season's final. That, and the emergence of players such as Marco Asensio and Isco — and Jose Mourinho's desire to take him to Manchester United — prompted a crusade among some fans and media to move him on, especially when it seemed Kylian Mbappe might replace him. 

Ultimately Bale never came close to leaving. In a summer when Neymar decided to leave Lionel Messi's shadow and, at the risk of winning less, become the undisputed biggest star at his club, Bale could have done the same by waving goodbye to Cristiano Ronaldo to be the king of Old Trafford.

'Well there's an argument for that,' he says of the win-less-but-be-the-star theory, 'but I think the main thing, when you look back on your career, is that you look at your trophies. In the end that's probably the most important thing.' 

A Spanish League, a Spanish Cup, a Spanish Super Cup, a World Club Cup and three European Super Cups to go with those three Champions Leagues is some haul and he would not have achieved it had he gone anywhere else in 2013 or stayed at Spurs – the club he is reunited with in this season's group stage and for whom he still has a lot of affection.

'I started at Southampton so it will always have that "home" kind of feeling there but I grew up at Tottenham,' he says.

'I have a lot of great memories from my time there; some not so great as well but it was a big part of my journey. I love the club and still keep in touch with a lot of people there and the fans were incredible. I really enjoyed playing in those big European nights at White Hart Lane.

'It was a shame we didn't win as many trophies as I would have liked. I've spoken to Luka [Modric] about this. We were there or thereabouts to win the league and we kind of just dipped at the end. When you look at the team we had at the time, we feel that we should have won something.' 

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