Gareth Bale has been hailed as a ‘fantastic player’ by Julen Lopetegui, but his former boss at Real Madrid also suggested the Wales icon didn’t reach his full potential.
The 33-year-old called time on his football career on Monday following a glittering career that saw him win five Champions League titles.
Bale also won three LaLiga titles during his time at Los Blancos, before helping Los Angeles FC win the MLS Cup in November.
His agent Jonathan Barnett has labelled the Welshman, who fired the Red Dragons to their first World Cup in 64 years in 2022, as the best British player in history.
And Wolves manager Lopetegui has been quick to laud the ex-Tottenham forward following his shock retirement.
Lopetegui briefly coached Bale for four months at the Bernabeu before being relieved of his duties after just 14 games in 2018.
Still, Bale made a huge impression on the Spaniard, but Lopetegui insists that the Southampton academy product didn’t hit the heights he was capable of reaching.
Speaking in his press conference ahead of Wednesday’s Carabao Cup tie away at Nottingham Forest, Lopetegui said: “I wish him the best for his life of course.
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“I think he is one of the players with the better strengths that I have seen.
“Maybe he doesn’t take advantage of these strengths. It was a pity in my opinion.
“I have seen a lot of players, and I can guarantee you that Gareth has a lot of strengths.
“Physically and technically. When the demands are at a very high level, it’s not easy for anyone.
“The character and demands can make the difference.
“But he was a fantastic player and I enjoyed him for many months.”
Bale has been plagued by a number of different injuries in recent years which has seen his game time limited.
His ex-Wales teammate, Dave Edwards, has told talkSPORT he has made the ‘correct choice’ in hanging up his boots.
Wales boss Rob Page even said Bale deserves a statue for what he did for his country.
Page said: “He was really passionate about his country and not afraid to tell people of the pecking order of where he was with golf, club football and playing for Wales.
“When you’ve got somebody of Gareth’s stature, what he’s done for Wales, the impact he can have – even being in the changing room being around the players – I’ve got to take advantage of that.
“He’s interested to do it, and I would like to keep him involved.
“There might have already been discussions before this about him staying involved in some capacity.
“But the important thing right now is to celebrate his career and what he’s done for us as a nation.”
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