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Real Madrid: Zinedine Zidane defends Gareth Bale after criticism over flag celebration

The Independent logo The Independent 2019-11-22 Tom Kershaw
Zinedine Zidane wearing a white shirt © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane attempted to cool criticism of Gareth Bale as the repercussions of the Welshman’s celebrations with a flag suggesting Madrid is low on his list of priorities continue to be felt in Spain.

After Wales secured their qualification for Euro 2020 with a 2-0 win against Hungary, Bale danced with a flag reading “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order”.

The images were immediately pounced on by the Spanish press who accused Bale of a lack of respect and even urged Madrid to terminate the Welshman’s contract.

Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers © Getty Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

Marca’s front page responded: “Disrespectful. Misguided. Ungrateful. In that order.” While AS columnist Tomas Roncero did his own play on the flag, writing: “Out. Out. Out.”

“There’s been a lot of noise about what he did but we need to just focus on football. It’s all got a bit too much,” Zidane said. “I’m just looking at what he can give us on the pitch, not what’s said off it, that doesn’t interest me.

“I believe he can become a decisive player for us again. He’s an important player when he is injury free; he’s shown that before and he will show it again.”

REUTERS/Rebecca Naden © Reuters REUTERS/Rebecca Naden

Madrid are currently second in La Liga and host in-form Real Sociedad at the Bernabeu this weekend and Zidane urged fan sto give Bale, who has not featured for Madrid since 5 October and whose participation with Wales was hailed “a miracle” by the Spanish press, a warm reception.

“When you see what he’s given to the club and to the fans, those who feel our colours and come to the stadium, you can see he’s one of our own and the fans need to get behind him,” he said.

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