‘It’s good that they bit’, says wind-up merchant Bale

Date published: Tuesday 14th June 2016 4:22

Gareth Bale: Mind games

Gareth Bale maintains Wales have more passion than England and has dismissed Roy Hodgson’s claim that he was being disrespectful.

Bale also said before Wales’ opening Group B victory over Slovakia that England “big themselves up before they’ve done anything”, and Three Lions boss Hodgson responded by describing those remarks as “disrespectful”.

But Bale said he stood by his comments as he addressed the media ahead of the England and Wales game in Lens in Thursday.

“It’s good that they bit,” Bale said. “People can say what they want.

“Someone said I disrespected England, which wasn’t the case.

“I never said that they didn’t have passion and pride, I just feel that we have more.

“Whether it’s football or rugby or whatever sport it is, in Wales we seem to have that next level.

“We really feel it on the pitch, watching the games. I’m just giving my opinion.

“I’m happy with my comments. I feel we’ve got a massive team spirit, one of the best I’ve seen.”

Wales have the early advantage in Group B after winning their first-ever game at the Euros, while England were stunned by Russia’s injury-time equaliser in Marseille.

Gareth Bale celebrates Wales v Slovakia

But Bale said he was not interested in playing mind games and that Wales’ focus was only on themselves and not their neighbours.

“For me there are no mind games,” said Bale. “Nothing’s fazing us, we don’t feel any pressure, we just want to enjoy the occasion.

“It’s going to be a derby, a big atmosphere. We know that, we’re ready for it, we’re going to enjoy it.

“We know we’re going to give 100 per cent, and we know that when we give everything for the Welsh shirt and our nation we can’t do any more.”

Jack Wilshere: Praise for Rooney and co

Jack Wilshere: Praise for Rooney and co

Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere added more spice to the game when he said England had the edge as they have a better squad than Wales.

But Bale – who quipped that no England players would get in the Wales team – said: “If they feel they have the better squad, good for them.

“We know they’re a bigger nation with more players to choose from, but we’ve closed the gap massively.

“They’re a good team and, I’m sure if they put in a good performance, they’ll feel they can beat us. But we’re exactly the same. If we work well as a team, we feel we can win.”

The build-up to the game has been overshadowed by security concerns after crowd trouble both inside and outside the stadium marred the England-Russia game last weekend.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said he harboured “serious concerns” over the Wales game, with Russia playing Slovakia in nearby Lille the day before.

But England have no plans to keep friends and family away from the game, and Bale said people should listen to the experts concerning security issues.

“We want the fans to go to the game and enjoy it,” said Bale.

“If you don’t have a ticket don’t go to the game, stay out of trouble and enjoy the occasion.

“It’s a historic moment for our country, and one that everybody should enjoy and not look back on with any regrets.”

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