Gareth Bale could go down in history as one of the greatest British players of all time, according to his former Wales team-mate Ashley Williams.
Bale will lead the Wales challenge at Euro 2020, five years after the Real Madrid star helped his side go all the way to the semi-finals in the last European Championship finals.
Yet Williams suggests the Bale who will take to the field for Wales against Switzerland in the Group A encounter in Baku on Saturday is a very different footballer compared to the giant of 2016.
“I think he is in conversation as one of the greatest British players ever,” declares Williams, in an exclusive interview with TEAMtalk.
“Just on the basis of what he has won at Real Madrid and his contribution to those successes in Champions League finals, scoring some vital goals, you have to say there are few who have achieved more.
“Maybe it has not gone as well for him over the last couple of years, but that is normal for most footballers, even players who have reaches Gareth’s level.
“Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who have managed to reach that elite level and stay there year after year and what we have seen from Gareth is more normal for a player of his age.
“He has set the bar so high. He was doing something incredible every single week when he was in his final season at Tottenham, but that was never going to happen at this stage of his career.
“What he needed to do was find where he fitted in at Tottenham and by the end of it, I feel like he did that.
“I also feel like he has adapted his game a little. He is not as athletic as he used to be, he looks to take up better positions and influence the game in different ways.”
Semi-finals a tall task for Wales this time around
Williams was captain of the Wales side that reached the semi-finals of the Euro 2016 finals, but the defender who called time on his own career last January suggests a repeat of that performance may not be realistic this time.
“This is a different group of players and to get into the last-16 would be success,” he added. “I think getting to the semi-finals may be beyond them this time, but strange things can happen in the knock-out stages.
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“They have done unbelievably well to get there and our fans are so happy to see their team in the tournament again.
“The Switzerland game will be vital as they need to get off to a good start ahead of the matches against Turkey and Italy.
“We have had a few problems with some of our top players going into this tournament and I don’t think anyone is thinking we need to get to the semi-finals again.”
Ally McCoist, Ashley Williams and Jamie Redknapp represent each of the participating home nations in Greene King’s Euros campaign. As “your home of pub sport”, Greene King will be showing games at more than 1,000 pubs, celebrating the return of international football. Secure your seat at: https://www.greeneking-pubs.co.uk/euro-2021