Gareth Bale signed for Real Madrid back in 2013 to play in the biggest matches and win club football’s most prestigious trophies.
The world-class Welsh forward has done exactly that over the past five years: winning a host of major honours since completing his £85.3 million move from Tottenham.
Bale had already won the Champions League three times before this weekend’s final against Liverpool - in 2014, 2016 and 2017 - and must have assumed he’d done enough in recent weeks to earn a place in the starting line-up in Kiev.
Bale had scored three goals in Madrid’s previous two games, against Celta Vigo and Villarreal, but that wasn’t enough to convince Zinedine Zidane to start him in Kiev.
The Madrid boss named Bale as one of his seven substitutes and instead opted for an attacking trio comprised of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Isco.
However, journalists inside the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium noticed something very curious during the warm-up.
Only five of Real Madrid’s subs were out on the pitch warming up. Bale was nowhere to be seen.
No sign of Bale during the warm-up
This immediately sparked speculation that the 28-year-old was refusing to warm up after being left out of the starting line-up.
If true, then Bale’s Real Madrid career would have almost certainly been over.
However, the Wales international is a consummate professional and although he had every reason to feel disappointed with his omission, it would have been extremely out of character if he’d thrown a tantrum and refused to warm up with his fellow subs.
What exactly had happened?
Guillem Balague explains why Bale wasn't on the pitch
Well, Guillem Balague revealed the reason for Bale’s absence on Twitter.
According to the Spanish football journalist, Bale never comes out and warms up when he’s not starting. He warms up differently to the rest of his teammates, presumably back inside the dressing room.
Sounds strange, admittedly, but at least it clears up the mystery.
Although Bale must have been devastated, he hadn’t done anything stupid before kick-off.
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