Gareth Frank Bale, the 30-year-old winger for Real Madrid is famous for his love for golf and a week ago he appeared on Erik Anders Lang’s podcast where he talked about his love for golf and his life as a footballer.
Erik Anders Lang wears many professional hats and is a famous cinematographer, photographer, creator of Adventures in Golf (Youtube video series of visiting historic, unique and exciting golf courses around the world) and currently the founder of the merchandise brand ‘Random Golf Club’.
Here’s a full transcript of the talk for you to enjoy –
Bale: “Football is a job for me, and golf is my love, I don’t have any pressure on me except for the one I put on myself. The ball has become business, everything is based on score. All I want is to spend time with my friends and play golf. It’s practically all I do, because it makes me happy.”
- American fans can be told that I play on the best football team in the world? Of course you do. We have the most successes, so there is no reason not to say so. Am I one of the best footballers? I let people talk about things like that. I’m a normal person who just happens to play ball in front of a lot of people. My friends make me stay on the ground.
- A record transfer to Real? I know there’s no such thing in the United States, because the system is more exchange-based there, but when a club in Europe buys you for a lot of money, there’s a lot of pressure because God knows how many millions have been paid for you. There is this pressure to present yourself in the right way. When my transfer came about, it was a little strange. I knew it was a world record then, but I never really thought about it. I left it and I just wanted to play ball. What happened happened happened, and I tried to show my best side on the pitch. You know, a lot of people said I had to prove my worth, but I came up with a different approach and I dropped the burden.
- Golf is a problematic reality for me? You wouldn’t think it could be, but yes, many people have a problem with me playing golf. I don’t know their reasons. I’ve talked to doctors and experts. Nobody has a problem with that. Especially the media have this feeling that it’s not good for me, that I should rest, that it could lead to an injury… I’ve looked at it in the United States and, for example, Steph Curry plays golf on the morning of the match day [the leader confirms that Curry and Andre Iguodala played golf together on match days]. I’ve seen other examples as well, and here if I play 2 days before the meeting, the question is “What is he doing?”. Real Madrid fans aren’t interested in my golf? No, not at all. Out of season, I even play 2-3 times a day. I also travel to play golf somewhere. I like to play in the United States.
- Why did I like golf? In the UK, practically every footballer plays golf. When you get to the senior team, you have a group of guys who play, so you go out to play with them. I started out about this way. When I moved here the weather is of course a million times better and of course I can play a lot more golf. The more I played, the better I got, and this desire to play was getting bigger and bigger, as all golfers know. Today I love it more than ever before. Normally I don’t talk about it that much. I’m happy to talk about my hobby.
- Love for the football and love for golf? It’s different now. Football is a job for me, and golf is something where I go out alone, without anyone, I smile, I don’t have any pressure on me except for the pressure I put on myself, I just hit the ball. It’s good fun, no stress, playing with friends, usually good weather here too… The ball has become business. There’s a lot of pressure on us. When you don’t play well, the level of rating is huge… 80 thousand people whistled at me because I didn’t play well. [Laughs] It happened several times. The first time I asked myself: “Wait, what is it?”
- Why are the fans of my team whistling at me? That’s the biggest question and I don’t understand it. When you don’t have a good time on the pitch, you expect the fans to support you and help you play better, because it will make them happier. But the opposite is true, they just whistle at you, which makes you feel worse. In the end you lose confidence and play worse, which makes them even more annoyed [laughter]. That’s the kind of subject in Real Madrid. It exists in other places, but it’s known especially here. It’s not so much in golf, and when it does, it’s probably because of your behaviour. Here, when I waste a good opportunity, I’m gonna break down, and when the whistles come, I go even further down. [Laughs] The next time the goal literally shrinks. Golf gives me a sense of isolation. Sometimes I even go to play alone, start listening to music, go through 18 holes and relax. I don’t think about the ball at all, especially if it’s not going too well.
- Do I believe that golf helps me as a footballer? I believe in it, yes. But a lot of people have the opposite opinion. [Laughs] Mentally, it refreshes my mind. When you play football, you come home and see another game, listen to other people’s opinions about football… It can lead to psychological problems. I’ve read about how other people deal with it. I have a routine to get away from everything. I love being on the field for the game itself, but it also has bonuses like running away from everyone, from football, especially when it goes wrong. Then I can just be on the field, have a ball, green grass and a few jokes with my friends [laughter]. It’s nice to run away from it, play a good game without any pressure or stress.
- What do I like about golfing besides getting a score? What I like most about off-score golf is the fact that I have 18 holes in front of me and that I am away from everything. It helps you to reset yourself. The next day you feel fresher, have better concentration and feel better in football. You could say it’s some kind of therapy. When you’ve played a bad game and the next day you’re off, you don’t want to sit at home and remember what you could have done better. It’s not healthy for anybody. On the golf course you can forget about everything and not build up these negative emotions. You relax and when you have to get back on the pitch, you are much fresher and you can just concentrate on what you can do next.
- What do I like about football besides achieving a score? Pfff, the problem is that today in football everything is based on score. That’s the problem. A professional golfer is also only based on score. The problem is that you can play great in football but don’t score a goal for 5 games and everyone will find that this guy has a terrible time. You think you’re playing well, you just didn’t score a goal or score a support, but you worked well for the team. But people just like goals, assists and wow. Sometimes it doesn’t come. That’s the problem and today the ball is all about the score. You play badly, but you score two goals and after the game you have a 10/10 rating. When I have this situation, I say straight away that I played badly. Everyone says, “What a great game.” I say, “I played so badly…” [Laughs] You can knock the ball into an empty goal three times and not touch it, and you’re a great player. People can have their opinions, but I think as long as I’ve tried my best and played my best, I’m happy.
- When you read the media, your self-confidence drops very quickly. Everyone has an opinion. You play well, you don’t shoot, they judge you badly. You play badly, you shoot, they judge you well. They’re just people’s opinions. If you know you played well, but people think you played badly, then I think it is perhaps most important for an athlete to have the right self-esteem that you played well. Even if someone criticizes you, you have to look at yourself honestly. It helps to keep me confident. It probably concerns all aspects of life, not just sport.
- Do I read the comments on Instagram? No, it’s not healthy for an athlete. [Laughs] You can have 1000 great praise there and one bad comment. You will always focus on the bad one, which will violate your confidence and affect your work. Why do you need this? Mentally, there’s no reason for that. Besides, I don’t know my password anyway. [Laughs] I have a private account for family and friends? No.
- Anger doesn’t help with golf, but helps with football? Yes, definitely. When you don’t play well, you get angry with yourself and try harder. It’s natural. Sometimes anger helps me on the pitch because it’s a more contact sport, you can be more aggressive and you can win a few fights with it. It certainly helps you in football.
- I’m left-handed in football, but right-handed, also in golf. The story of the left-legged prohibition? At school, my teacher banned me from playing with my left leg because I was too good. [teacher’s laughter] The point is, it wasn’t funny to me. In PE class we worked in groups, so as soon as he turned around, his left leg would snort, snort and gol. [Laughs] Everyone was groaning at once, so I denied that I hit my right leg. I’m much worse at playing with my right leg? Yes. I can use it, but it’s more for support. [Laughs] My position? I prefer to hit the goal on my right. I started on the left, but now I play on the right.
- Speed or accuracy on the shot? I’m looking for a high speed hit, but probably accuracy is more important. You can shoot 100 km/h at the goalkeeper and have a chance, but I prefer to shoot 80 km/h next to him at the window and he has no chance. Preferred side of the goal? I can’t say, because goalkeepers can listen to us. [Laughs] No, I prefer the upper right side, the whole right side, I can hit harder there. Like golf, draw flies harder than fade.
- My legs are insured, yes. But I had most problems with my right leg. All because I’m leading the ball with my left foot and covering it with my right foot, so when someone attacks me, they hit me in the right leg. Generally, I don’t have ligaments on the outside of both ankles anymore, because they were ripped off [laughter].
- All I want is to spend time with my family and friends and play golf. I’m a very simple person. I love family and friends, I love golf. It’s practically all I do, because it makes me happy. I had this stage when I was younger, when I was buying cars and stuff, but I got over it quickly because I realized it was a waste of money. I like to do what I like to do. I go on holiday with my family and then I go to a golf tournament with friends paid by me, where we spend time together with a lot of laughter. After that I go back to training. I have a very simple life and I am very happy about it.
- My wife buys me clothes, usually in Zara, she’s the one who dresses me [laughter]. At the end I feel best in my shorts, I go to trainings every day. There’s no point in dressing uncomfortable, when I have 20 minutes for training, I take them off there, and after training I come home in them 20 minutes and take them off again.
Our Special thanks to user u/kazcmot for posting the thread on Reddit