Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale has revealed it took him ‘one second’ to turn down the chance to play for England after helping Wales qualify for Euro 2016.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star, 26, scored seven goals in 10 qualifiers as Wales reached the finals of next summer’s European Championship in France, the Dragons’ first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup.
Although Bale qualified to play for England due to his grandmother’s heritage, the 26-year-old has insisted he never considered playing for the Three Lions.
“I was really young at the time and my agent was involved, but it was literally a one-second conversation,” Bale told the Daily Mirror. “I just said, ‘Stop – it’s never going to happen.’
“I’m from Wales and I love Wales. Everyone knows how much I love playing for Wales. My grandmother is English, but I’m Welsh and that’s it. It was never an option.”
The Wales international added: “It still feels like a dream that we’ve actually made it to the finals. Every campaign we start off saying we can do it, but there was a bit more belief this time,” he added.
“A few of us have more than 50 caps, and although the expectation went up and the pressure mounts with every game, we just tried to embrace it. As soon as we got the ball rolling, the momentum just took us.
“We were keeping clean sheets, we were nicking 1-0 wins, it was the perfect campaign.
“We just adopted the mentality of winners and we’ve proved how good we are. I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the team of 1958, but I believe they didn’t qualify outright, so we are the first Wales team who have done it 100 per cent – and I take a lot of pride in that.”
Wales are best-priced at 70/1 to win Euro 2016.
Valdes will leave United in January
The agent of out-of-favour Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdes has revealed the player will leave Old Trafford when the transfer window re-opens in January, but insists the former Barcelona shot-stopper is unlikely to return to Spain.
Valdes, 33, has not featured for the Red Devils since manager Louis van Gaal revealed he refused to player for the reserves.
Also, United have since signed Sergio Romero, who is now the No. 2 goalkeeper behind David de Gea, on a free transfer.
“He needs to go to a place he feels is right for him,” Valdes’ agent Gines Carvajal told Radio Marca. “He won’t be coming to Spain, unless he decides otherwise.
“It is obvious he must leave in January and and we will try to make sure he’s happy and feels comfortable [with the move].”
Varvajal added: “He had the option of coming to Valencia in the summer and did not want to.”