Wales manager Ryan Giggs praised Gareth Bale’s “amazing” first goal in the Champions League final and says the Real Madrid player deserves to be called the best Wales international ever.
Just minutes after coming into a match tied at 1-1, Bale unleashed a stunning overhead kick from outside the box and found the back of the net to put Los Blancos back in front. He capitalised on a mistake from Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius to score a second and ice the match in the 83rd minute.
Bale’s goal set off celebrations in Los Angeles where Wales’ squad is preparing to face Mexico in a friendly match Monday and gathered to watch the game before training.
“Amazing. The team and all the staff were watching it at the team hotel and just went it in the room erupted, really. It was an amazing goal, a couple of minutes after coming on,” Giggs said. “But you’re not that surprised in one respect because of what Gareth’s done and what he’s already achieved. Amazing scenes, and it was great that all the team could watch it and celebrate together.”
“It was one of those moments where everybody kept watching the replay, all sorts of noises coming out. It was a special moment,” Giggs continued.
Perhaps it was even more than a special moment, though. Giggs joined the chorus wondering if the goal may be one of the best ever to have been scored in European competition.
“Zidane is the manager, the goal that he scored at Hamden Park, one of those goals where you just go, ‘Wow’ and it was one of those moments for Gareth,” he said. “It’s up there with the best Champions League goals ever, European Cup goals when it was the European competition. It’s just an amazing impact, amazing goal, but that’s what he’s capable of.”
Giggs, a Manchester United legend who represented Wales more than 60 times, said the goals and a fourth Champions League crown with Real Madrid solidify the 28-year-old’s status as the top Welsh player of all-time.
“He’s the greatest I’ve seen,” Giggs said. “Obviously I didn’t see John Charles or many others around that time, but he’s the greatest that I’ve seen. Great players turn up at the right moments and make the difference. He’s done it twice in Champions League finals. To win four, to go to Real Madrid and be so successful, yeah, he’s got to be.”
Bale now begins his off-season while the rest of his international team-mates take on Mexico and continue preparations for the launch of the UEFA Nations League in September. Giggs is looking forward to Bale taking part but said Bale’s club future was up to him to decide with many reports linking him with a move away from La Liga.
“I’ve always maintained that he looks happy at Real Madrid. It’s a great club and obviously a successful one. It’s Gareth’s choice obviously,” he said.” He’s made the difference today in a Champions League final. Whether that has any bearing on it, I don’t know, but we just have to wait and see.”