Danny Rose has revealed something startling about Gareth Bale – not only is the Welshman faster than England's rapid right-back Kyle Walker but significantly so.
Rose recently told reporters: “He joined Spurs predominantly as a left-back and now he’s one of the most dangerous attacking midfielders in the world. Actually, he’s probably the only guy I’ve seen who’s a lot quicker than Kyle Walker. I didn’t think that was possible.”
Walker recently had a field day against Russia, bombing forward to attack their aged back-line before, quite frankly, jogging back into position without so much as a threat from the opposition – at least until the final minute. His pace is a tremendous attribute for Roy Hodgson and has won him the starting spot ahead of the more technically gifted Nathaniel Clyne.
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However, it appears that Walker's prized asset will be completely neutralised when England take on Wales this Thursday. Bale has got the run on both him and Rose, who must have thought they had seen the back of the Welsh wonder when he departed White Hart Lane in 2013.
While Wales will always deny that they are a one-man team, it is clear that Bale will be the main focus of England's back four as they train for what could be a decisive game in Group B. It was Bale's goal that set their Euro 2016 campaign in motion against Slovakia and he is likely to prove the difference if the Dragons are to defeat the neighbouring Three Lions in Lens.
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But perhaps the presence of Tottenham players in the backline could give England an edge when defending against the Real Madrid star. Indeed, Rose, Walker and Bale all moved to Tottenham in the same summer in 2009 with the intention of breaking into the first-team.
There was, however, a time when it looked as though none of them would make it with all struggling to establish themselves either at Spurs or on loan.
Same start, different paths
"We actually had difficult starts to our careers at Tottenham,” Rose said. “I got injured and Gareth wasn’t playing as often as he would have liked. I didn’t see him that much outside football – he is a pretty reserved bloke who keeps himself to himself, and we were both very quiet at the time.
“We weren’t actually competing for the same place, either. I hadn’t joined as a left-back because I was playing more in midfield back then. It’s funny how I’ve gone back in my position and he’s gone forward. We both had to wait a while for our chance but it came. We played Real Madrid in pre-season last summer and I got to catch up with him. It was nice to see how happy he was, and how he relishes his football over there.”
Their paths would ultimately take vastly different directions with Bale becoming one of Europe's most feared attackers and the world's most expensive player while Rose and Walker have only just started to establish themselves on the international scene.
But they have improved vastly since last meeting Bale – a friendly a year ago in Munich’s Allianz Arena – and will feel confident of springing a surprise on their former team-mate.
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