Harry Redknapp has claimed that he had to toughen up Gareth Bale during his time at Tottenham in which he transformed from a £7m teenage signing from Southampton into the world’s most expensive player, costing Real Madrid £86m in the summer.
Redknapp has said that Bale was “too soft to be a defender” and that he “always seemed to be playing with his hair” after moving to White Hart Lane.
Writing in an extract of Always Managing: My Autobiography in the Daily Mail, Redknapp said: “Gareth seemed too soft to be a defender so we decided to try him further forward.
“He drove me mad in training. Technically he was outstanding, but he always seemed to be playing with his hair. It was never right. He’d be flicking the fringe or wiping it out of his eyes and I would be going quietly mad, just watching. 'Gareth, leave your barnet alone!’
“He was always getting a little knock in training, too. He’d go down then limp off, and I always thought the physios made too much fuss of him. It was the same pattern every morning: Gareth would tumble and stay there, and they’d all go running over. In the end I told them just to leave him alone.
“Gareth got up, got on with it and got better and better. It was all about building up his confidence.”
Redknapp was in charge of Spurs between 2008 and 2012, when he was sacked after missing out on Champions League football – despite finishing fourth due to Chelsea’s Champions League triumph.
The 66-year-old has since taken charge of Queens Park Rangers, having been handed the task of returning the west London club to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Andre Villas-Boas replaced Redknapp at White Hart Lane, missing out by the slimmest of margins on the Champions League last season, but he saw the PFA player of the year head to Spain in the summer after the club agreed a fee with Real Madrid for his transfer.
Having seen Bale make his debut in the Primera Division only to be ruled out for three weeks through injury, Redknapp believes the Welshman faces a huge ask to step-out of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow and forge his own name with the Spanish giants.
“He will have to be ready for when he goes it alone, has a shot, misses and Ronaldo starts throwing his arms up in the air,” Redknapp said. “He cannot, at that point, go into his shell and become this timid little creature. But it is not natural for Gareth to behave in an assertive way.”