During his difficult final years at Real Madrid, Gareth Bale only found happiness on the football field when he contacted Wales to compete with his national team.
Now, after moving to the United States, he feels the love at club level as well.
Bale joined Los Angeles FC in July after his contract at Madrid expired and regularly plays for one of Major League Soccer’s top teams, although mostly as a substitute because He is building up his fitness after barely getting game time in his last season in Spain. .
The final target for Bell is on November 21 – when Wales play the United States in their World Cup opener in Qatar. It marks the first World Cup for the Welshman since 1958 and, according to Bale, the end of a career which has seen him win the Champions League title in Madrid as the world’s most expensive player.
Ultimately, Bale chose to move to LA to make the most of the final years of his career – for his club team and his national team – and he thinks he made the right choice.
“I couldn’t ask for more,” Bell said at Wales’ training base on Wednesday, when asked how he’s settled in California. “They made me feel at home straight away. I’m getting good vibes from my team in MLS and hopefully that will give me more confidence to play for Wales.
Bale was all smiles – as usual – when he joined the Wales squad on Tuesday after flying from Los Angeles, where his family have moved and feels settled.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Bell feels fitter and sharper than he has in a long time. He follows a personal fitness program, loads up his training gradually, and has started two of LAFC’s last six games after being substituted for the first five.
Bale has yet to complete 90 minutes for his new team but it is more likely when LAFC enters the playoffs, where it will go as the leading team in the Western Conference.
“Any player will tell you, playing and being fully fit, match fit, is the most important thing and makes you feel great on the pitch,” Bale said. “The last couple of years, I’ve had to come (to the Wales camp) and find something and dig deep and find my fitness.
“I’ve obviously played a lot of games, a lot of training, going into these games and it’s great to play as much as you can so you can do your best for Wales.”
Wales coach Rob Page is unsure how much he will use Bale for the upcoming Nations League group games against Belgium and Poland, insisting the main thing is to keep his star player in top form leading up to the World Cup.
Page has no doubt that the move to Los Angeles has energized the Bills.
“It came from him, didn’t it?” Page said. “You can see it was the right move for him and his family. If it’s the lifestyle, the training — you see the welcome he’s gotten from the (LAFC) players. You talk about that environment. Coy (in Wales); looks like he’s got it in a dressing room in LA as well.
“We’ve had him in camp before and he’s been fantastic for us and we’ve won games without him playing a single minute at club level. Every minute we can get out of him is a bonus. I’m delighted – This is the best result for me.
Bell said the Wales-USA game on November 21 is a regular topic of conversation in the LAFC locker room.
“We’ve had some confusion with a few players and the coaching staff,” he said. “It’s something we joke about now and then.
“Finally, we know when crunch time comes, it’s going to be a tough game for both teams and we’re all looking forward to it.”