Wales star Gareth Bale still receives ridicule for his hairstyle despite having become one of the world’s highest-earning sportsmen, according to team-mate Joe Ledley.
Bale signed a new six-year contract with Real Madrid last month that will reportedly see him pocket €170million, while the deal contains a buyout clause of €1bn.
The disparity in wages between the 27-year-old and many of his Wales team-mates is significant, but Ledley insists the former Southampton youngster has not been affected by fame and fortune.
Indeed, the Crystal Palace man revealed Bale is regularly teased by the rest of Chris Coleman’s squad for anything from his hair to his golfing prowess.
“He deserves every penny and whatever he gets in life,” said Ledley. “He’s proven to be one of the greatest players on this planet. There is no jealousy whatsoever.
“We have known Gareth since he was a boy at Southampton and I haven’t seen any change in him at all – that is brilliant on his behalf. People can change in football and go different ways but he has just stayed on that straight and narrow line and remained the same person.
“He’s just one of the boys – we don’t care who he is, we will still hammer him and he will hammer us. That’s the banter we have here. If you ask him, he loves meeting up with Wales and that is the togetherness we have in this squad.
“It doesn’t matter who anybody is. We are all together as a team and you can’t treat anybody different to anybody else. We are all equal.”
Explaining some of the jokes that the squad cracks at Bale’s expense, Ledley added: “It’s mainly for a bit of his barnet. I can’t go into too much detail, but we had him when it fell out against Georgia last month. He looked like Tarzan!
“There’s a lot of banter going on around the place. We play golf together and, if he duffs one, then we are on his back because he’s pretty good at golf. That’s depressing, actually – I don’t know what he’s not good at.”
Wales face Serbia in World Cup qualifying on Saturday.