Why is it that Britons have this reputation for not travelling well?
Not just that but why aren’t Europe’s top five leagues filled with Home Nations players?
It’s is probably down to the level of cash on offer in the English league but that is what makes it such a treat when one of our icons makes the move abroad.
Gareth Bale equalled David Beckham’s appearance record for Real Madrid, and for a Briton in Spain, when he played against Espanyol last night for the 116th time.
The Welshman has enjoyed his time in Madrid winning all the biggest trophies on offer and taking home bucket loads of cash every week.
But the fact he was Florentino Perez’s signing combined with having to play second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo has meant the fans have never truly fallen in love with the left-footed speedster.
Regardless, is Bale Real Madrid’s best British player ever?
Let’s start off with a little comparison of Bale and Becks’ records at the Bernabeu.
116 games each, with a pretty much similar amount of starts, but Bale is way out in front when it comes to the amount of times he’s won with Los Blancos.
The B from BBC boasts 79 wins at a win percentage of 68.7% compared to Beckham who managed just 67 victories at a rate of 57.8%.
Bale’s scored 61 goals in his Madrid career, way above Beckham’s 13 and before you cry that they play in different positions in different systems let’s look at assists.
It’s 34-27 in favour of Bale on this one and Beckham had Luis Figo and Ronaldo tucking away his crosses.
When Beckham left Manchester in 2003 he was joining the ultimate Galactico side including players like Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Iker Cassillas, Figo and Raul.
It begs the question why that team didn’t win more trophies with a galaxy of the best players in the world.
All Bale had when he arrived was five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Angel Di Mari and Karim Benzema.
Admittedly Steve McManaman’s two La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns put him arguably above Beckham in the rankings but for pure star quality you can’t beat Golden Balls.
Looking at Bale’s trophy cabinet it was empty when he left the Premier League (he had been playing at Spurs so it’s understandable) but he has won it all in his five years at the Bernabeu.
Three Champions League winners’ medals hang off his bed posts, the team won La Liga last year and he boasts triumphs in the Copa Del Rey, super cup and the Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup twice each.
He scored a goal in the 2013-14 Champions League final and added another assist and success penalty in the shootout in 2015-16.
So why have the Madridistas never fully taken to the 28-year-old?
It is almost as bad as the poll which said 70% of Madrid fans wanted Ronaldo to leave the club – they should spend a day in the life of an Arsenal supporter.
Let’s give honourable mentions to the other Brits to have pulled on the famous white jersey.
Laurie Cunningham was the trailblazer who moved West Brom to the Bernabeu in 1973, won the league and two cups in five years and moved on to Marseille.
McManaman had a lovely old time in Spain, Jonathan Woodgate never really recovered from awful start and Michael Owen’s solitary year was a failed experiment.
Be proud Wales, be proud.
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