Gareth Bale explains Real Madrid's relationship with the Champions League

  • Real Madrid aiming for record-extending 15th European Cup
  • Gareth Bale won five during his nine-year career at the Bernabeu
  • "It is the one competition valued more than any others"
Gareth Bale won five Champions League finals with Real Madrid
Gareth Bale won five Champions League finals with Real Madrid / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages

Gareth Bale has admitted that Real Madrid's relationship with the European Cup and Champions League is "hard to explain", even after playing for the club for nine years.

The Welsh forward made 258 appearances for Madrid, more than at any other single club in his career, and was a five-time Champions League winner during his time in the Spanish capital.

On Saturday evening, Madrid are aiming for a milestone 15th European title to extend their own competition record – no other club has won more than seven and Los Blancos have collected that many in the first quarter of the 21st century alone.

"Even having been there, [the Champions League drive] is hard to explain," Bale told The Guardian.

"Obviously it means a lot to the club and to the fans. It is the one competition valued more than any others, the main focus every year. But the fact they keep doing it, even when they seem down and out... we always seem to find a way to get back into a game and win it.

Madrid pulled off a late comeback to reach this season's final / David Ramos/GettyImages

"It is that aura; other teams now are arguably playing the badge and not necessarily the team. It has momentum behind it, Real Madrid and the European Cup. Teams are scared to play Real Madrid and that is such a big thing."

Bale's relationship with the Spanish press throughout his stay at the Bernabeu was strained at best and fans would often be on his case about the persistent injuries that limited his availability. Yet his "love" for Madrid hasn't been diluted and remains as stronger as ever.

"I was there for a long time. I still look for their results, still love the team, still support them, just like I did when I was young," he said. "I fully expect Madrid to lift the trophy [against Borussia Dortmund]. They understand the pressures and know what to expect, which is a big advantage."