Real Madrid star Gareth Bale has stressed he is not overly bothered about winning the Ballon d’Or, with titles at team level his preference.
The 27-year-old made France Football’s 30-man longlist for the prestigious individual award and is regarded as one of the outsiders to win it, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi the inevitable favourites.
Nevertheless, Bale, who signed a new six-year deal at Madrid on Sunday, is adamant lifting the Ballon d’Or does not top his priority list by any means.
“The Ballon d’Or has never been a personal goal for me. I never dreamed about winning the Ballon d’Or. I dreamed about winning Champions League and league titles,” Bale said at a media conference.
“If I win the Champions League and other titles, then individual awards will come, but it is not something I’m thinking about. Trophies for club and country come first for me.
“If it happens, it happens. If you play well for club and country, the Ballon d’Or will come. It is not something I am thinking about, but it would be fantastic if it happens.”
Either Ronaldo or Messi is expected to win the award, but Bale refused to pick his personal favourite as he feels it is up to the jury to make such calls.
“A lot of players have had a good season,” he added.
“Messi and Ronaldo have both had great seasons. Cristiano has been incredible, he won the Champions League and Euro 2016.
“But I am not in the jury, so I cannot say who will win it. I wish luck to my team-mates and to everyone else.”
Bale enjoyed a fine 2015-16 campaign, but previously received his fair share of criticism after enduring some difficulties at Madrid.
He tries not to let negative comments get to him, though, and feels people cannot hold anything against him as long as he gives his all for the club.
“I understand there will be good press and bad press. This is football. Criticism is part of the game,” Bale continued.
“You can put yourself down a bit if you pay too much attention to the press. You have to keep working hard and not look at what the media say.
“All you can do is give 100 per cent. If you do that, there are no regrets.”