Madrid hero Mijatovic wants end to Bale criticism after Wales flag controversy

Predrag Mijatovic highlighted Gareth Bale's "great qualities" after the winger's relationship with Real Madrid fans reached an all-time low.

Gareth Bale's celebrations on Wales qualifying for Euro 2020 was perceived by many Spanish media outlets as a slight against Real Madrid.   -  Getty Images

The former Real Madrid star whose words inspired the infamous "WALES. GOLF. MADRID" flag hopes criticism of Gareth Bale has come to an end.

Predrag Mijatovic, scorer of 44 goals for Madrid in the late 1990s, fuelled negative fan opinion against the 30-year-old winger when he questioned Bale's priorities in an October interview. "[The perception is] the first thing he thinks about is Wales, then golf and after that, Real Madrid," Mijatovic, 50, was quoted as telling radio station Cadena SER.

Wales fans adapted the comments into a light-hearted chant and later a banner, which Bale posed behind following last month's triumph over Hungary. The former Tottenham star was celebrating qualification for Euro 2020 but several Spanish media outlets perceived his actions to be a slight against Madrid.

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He was met with jeers every time he touched the ball on his next appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu, a 3-1 La Liga win against Real Sociedad. "My intention was not this, I have already said that Bale has great qualities as a footballer and I have always liked him," Mijatovic told AS TV.

'Don't want any more controversies'

"It is true that he makes mistakes on some occasions and we have to comment on him as former players and former directors, but I don't want any more controversies, nor the flag to play a leading role. What I want is for Madrid to play well and win all the possible titles. I'd rather not say anything else [about Bale] because we're going to bring it all up again.

"The most important thing is that Bale is back, he's playing and that's what we all want."

Mijatovic spent three seasons with Madrid during his playing career, notably scoring the goal that secured victory against Juventus in the 1998 Champions League final. He served as the club's sporting director from 2006 to 2009.

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