Black Monday for Gareth Bale


Gareth Bale will take a long time to forget Monday October 9th. The Real Madrid forward could only watch, powerless to do anything, as Wales waved goodbye to the possibility of appearing in the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958, and with the knowledge that he himself was out of the running for the Ballon d’Or.

Gareth Bale’s Black Monday actually began some time ago. Specifically, it was when he picked up a hamstring injury in the Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund. That injury meant he could not be called up to his national team, who were facing two key games. He did turn up, but the doctors, having checked him, certified that he was not fit for action.

Wales won their first qualifier, away against Georgia by a solitary goal, and depended only on themselves to reach the play-offs, needing to get all three points by beating the Republic of Ireland in the last game, at home in Cardiff. While Bale was getting ready for the game, trying to infuse his countrymen with morale, he received the news that he had not been included on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d’Or. This was quite a blow for a footballer who hopes one day to inherit the throne on which Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi sit alternately.

Added to this disappointment came World Cup bitterness. Wales went down 0-1 to Ireland in front of their own fans and ended up finishing third in their group when everybody had taken it almost for granted that they would get at least as far as the play-offs.