By 90Min
October 17, 2017

Following a then world record £85m transfer to Real Madrid from Tottenham back in 2013, it is safe to say that a lot was expected of the Welsh international Gareth Bale, with many fans and pundits alike predicting the transfer to be make or break for the player's career. 

The pressure on the Southampton academy graduate was enhanced ever more due to the reputation of Los Blancos' fans and their inclination to whistle even their greatest of stars, as none other than Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane will tell you. 

Since arriving at the Santiago Bernabeu, in fairness to Bale, he has fared quite well. The 28-year-old scored the winning goal in both the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals in his debut season in the Spanish capital, and must be commended for taking the plunge overseas when it has become a rarity for footballers from the home nations to do so. 

Players such as Ashley Cole and Joey Barton are indicative examples of Brits who have attempted to crack the foreign game and ply their trade in other countries, but their efforts whilst doing so subsequently saw them mocked as they attempted to broaden their horizons. 

Cole, in particular, made just 14 appearances for Roma following his departure from Chelsea, with the awkwardness of his pose in the Serie A side's team photo being the crowning moment of his Italian job. Instead of being commended for continuing to play at an elite European level when most would've jump on a lucrative final paycheck in China, Cole was instead the source of many internet 'memes' mocking his ineptitude at fitting in when in Rome.

In Joey Barton's case, his time at Marseille in Ligue 1 was far more successful than Cole's expedition in a footballing sense, making 27 appearances in all competitions for the French club and becoming a well liked figure amongst the fans. 

His one common denominator with Cole, however, was the fact that he too was barraged with mockery due to his attempt to converse with an artificial french accent in one ill-conceived press conference, with the incident unfairly being the one standout moment of the Merseysider's one year abroad.   

It is because of failings such as the aforementioned that many British footballers are reluctant to take the plunge at pitting their wits in Europe's other top leagues, perhaps due to a fear of failure, being mocked, or simply due to to the fact that they are too stuck in their ways in their home nations to ever want or need to uproot. 

So next time the Madridistas decide to harass Bale, they should bear in mind the fact that the boy born in Cardiff has had to completely uproot his young family, learn a brand new language, feel the weight of a world record transfer fee on his shoulders and still managed to score 82 goals in 188 appearances to become the highest scoring Brit in La Liga history. 

The former Spurs man has also won La Liga, the Copa del Rey, three Champions Leagues and three UEFA Super Cups as well as the FIFA Club World Cup, and rightly holds the torch for Brits abroad.

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