Bale: Euro 2016 my top priority

Date published: Saturday 13th June 2015 12:20

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Bale marked his 50th international appearance on Friday night with the goal which floored Belgium and took Wales to within touching distance of their first major tournament in over half a century.

The 25-year-old will have another hectic campaign at club level, with new Real Madrid coach Rafael Benitez apparently keen to build his side around the Wales forward.

But Bale is very much focused on completing Wales’ march to their first major finals since the 1958 World Cup, his 17th international goal having moved Chris Coleman’s side three points clear at the top of Group B with four games remaining.

“I think everybody knows how much I want to get to a major tournament with Wales,” Bale said. “It’s top of my list now. It’s on, so we’ll keep working hard to do it.

“We know what position we’re in and we’re going to enjoy this.

“We know there’s still a long way to go. We can enjoy now, but when the next camp comes around we will be straight back on the floor.

“We will be working hard on the training field and ready to do the business.”

Bale settled the contest at the Cardiff City Stadium when he pounced on Belgium midfielder Radja Nainggolan’s ill-conceived header towards his own goal after 25 minutes.

He chested the ball down and beat goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, just as he had done in the 2014 Champions League final for Real, by slipping the ball through his legs with his weaker right foot.

After that Wales had to dig in against opponents ranked second in the world by FIFA, and survived a siege at times with the players willed on by a passionate sell-out crowd.

“I think that was definitely the most important goal I’ve scored,” Bale said.

“It was our biggest international game and we rose to the occasion and got the win we needed.

“At the start of the campaign, if you’d offered us the chance to be top of the group after six games we’d have bitten your hand off.

“We prepared well, we worked hard together we played good football.

“We were under the cosh at times but we battled in every area and I felt we deserved the win in the end.”

Wales’ victory not only moved them to within probably two victories of qualifying for Euro 2016 in France, but also confirmed their place among the top seeds for next month’s World Cup draw in Russia.

It has completed a remarkable rise as Wales were in the bottom band of European seeds for the 2014 World Cup qualifying draw when they were ranked 112 in the world – 90 places below their current position.

“It seems to be two things working at the same time,” manager Coleman said.

“We’re trying to do well in the campaign and get as high as we can in the rankings.

“The lower you are, the harder the group you are in, so that’s good for us and it will be interesting to see what comes out of that.

“But this (Euro 2016 qualification) is obviously our main objective and we’ve got to put this to bed.

“We’ve got to do something that other teams have unfortunately not managed to do, and our eyes are on the next game.”

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