Gareth Bale: Nothing to prove in final
Gareth Bale has insisted he did not feel he had anything to prove after completing his record-breaking 86-million-pound move from Tottenham to Real Madrid last summer.
Bale's status as the world's most expensive footballer ensured he was under the microscope from the moment he set foot in Madrid last summer, yet he has answered his critics with some sparkling displays that included his spectacular winning goal in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona last month.
Bale will look to win his first Champions League title in Libson this Saturday, after Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that the Welsh winger is fully fit to take on Atletico despite some lingering injury problems in recent weeks.
"I don't feel I had anything to prove," Bale said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. "I always have confidence in my ability and I always try to come through whether it is a good or a bad time.
"I think every season from when I first became professional I kept on improving. I felt I was getting better every year and that is the case now."
"I always wanted to be here, but as soon as I came here I felt comfortable straight away. It obviously took me a bit of time to get used to everything but I felt comfortable straight away playing football here with the best players in the world.
"I feel I have just come here and purely concentrated on my football and letting my football do the talking.
"I am trying to embrace everything. Obviously certain things are a lot harder than others and the language is one, but the food is amazing. It is about embracing everything, taking it on board, taking it into your stride and trying to enjoy the ride."
Bale has suggested "there is a great buzz" around Madrid in the build-up to Real Madrid's clash with Atletico, with Bale having to pinch himself to confirm he will be a part of Europe's biggest single club game this weekend.
"If someone had told me then that I would be playing in a Champions League final, I probably would not have believed them straight away but that is football for you," he stated.
"Strange things happen. It surprises everybody. I felt the time was right to leave Tottenham and go to Real Madrid for the exact reasons I am experiencing now. As a player you want to come to the best club in the world and you want to win trophies."
Meanwhile, Bale has suggested that qualifying for the World Cup finals with Wales would be just big an achievement in his career as winning next Saturday's Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.
Bale concedes success with Wales is a long-term ambition he is determined to pursue, as he suggested it can run in tandem with his flourishing club career in an interview with Sky Sports.
"For any footballer, they would love to play at the World Cup finals and it is obviously a massive goal of mine and of the whole team and something we are trying to achieve soon," stated Bale.
"Every player wants to win trophies and for me that is the first thing I want to do, and to be able to qualify and play in the World Cup. Realistically, I do not think Wales would win it but it would be great just to be there to experience it and create history for our country."