Ex-Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui lauds ‘fantastic’ Gareth Bale following retirement but says Wales legend didn’t take advantage of his strengths

    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.

    Lopetegui suggested Bale had more to give at the Bernabeu

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    Lopetegui suggested Bale had more to give at the Bernabeu

    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.

    Bale worked briefly with Lopetegui at Madrid before the Spaniard was sacked after four months

    Getty

    Bale worked briefly with Lopetegui at Madrid before the Spaniard was sacked after four months

    “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.

    Gareth Bale just loves winning trophies

    getty

    Bale won five Champions League titles during his time with the Spanish side

    “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.

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