European Championship qualifiers: We don't mind being called 'Bales' says Wales's Ben Davies

Bale has been the driving force behind the Welsh rejuvenation, during which Chris Coleman’s side have climbed into the top 10 of the Fifa world rankings.

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ben Davies and his Wales team-mates do not mind all the focus being on Gareth Bale if they end up at the European Championship in France next summer.

Wales are top of qualification Group B and know wins against Cyprus and Israel this week will guarantee a first appearance at a major tournament since 1958.

Bale has been the driving force behind the Welsh rejuvenation, during which Chris Coleman’s side have climbed into the top 10 of the Fifa world rankings. The 26-year-old Real Madrid striker has scored five goals in six games so far in the qualifying campaign, including the winner in the stunning 1-0 victory over Belgium in June.

It has led some critics to rename the national side “Bales”, but there is no envy from his team-mates, who are revelling in the brilliance of the world’s most expensive player.

“I can understand why some people call us ‘Bales’ not Wales, but a player like him comes along once in a lifetime,” said Davies.

“We can clearly see how important he has been and hopefully he can keep it going. Gareth has been phenomenal and we are lucky to have someone like him in our squad.

“We are well aware of how big a part he has played in this campaign and if the rest of us have to feed him the ball and he puts it in the net, we will gladly do it if it gets us to France.”

Bale has appeared like a man possessed at times during this qualification effort, cajoling his colleagues, whipping up the Welsh supporters and wholeheartedly celebrating each victory.

His commitment to his country has never been in doubt – in 2013 he reported for duty for a friendly with the Republic of Ireland despite being injured and in the midst of sealing his move from Tottenham – and within hours of scoring two goals for Real on Saturday he was on a private jet back to his homeland.

“He feels passionately about getting Wales to the finals,” added Spurs full-back Davies. “With his capabilities and playing at Real Madrid with a lot of players who regularly go to major finals, he deserves to experience that.

“Seeing someone like him who is willing to put the graft in for his country ups everyone else. We want to be as good a team as possible, he sets the standard and we have to reach it.”

Wales have injury concerns over James Chester and Hal Robson-Kanu, who are nursing hamstring and groin problems, while West Ham’s James Collins has joined the squad late after the birth of his son over the weekend.

Comments