Rest and recovery: Gareth Bale Interview

Gareth Bale is a player who knows the importance of recovery in his profession, as his Real Madrid side have been without their record signing for parts of the season.

The Welshman’s mercurial performances at both club and international have helped win European Cups and make an entire nation immensely proud whilst playing for Los Blancos and Wales, respectively. But, unfortunately, injury has prevented Bale from seeing a lot of first-team football in parts of this season and in all honesty, it has sadly prevented the footballing world from watching one of its most exciting talents. Injury, though, and the recovery that comes after it, is part and parcel of the game, as Bale acknowledges.

He told LAF; It’s been frustrating, but this happens in football, unfortunately. The medical team at Real Madrid are really good – they put a lot of work into strengthening and rebuilding muscles at the right pace because you can’t push yourself too much.”

Given the intensity of elite-level football, it is no surprise how much emphasis is put on the recovery of players, with clubs and the athletes themselves doing everything they can to ensure they are at their best. This, of course, means plenty of gym work. But also, it means the most simple and most effective mode of recovery there is; sleep.

Sleeping for more than 10 hours in a night is hard to do for most people, but it makes for an improved performance that is vital for a footballer be they playing or recovering from injury. Alternatively, a bad night sleep makes for a poor performance, and a weaker immune system and the downsides that go with that. But, as a fine professional, a trait that Bale has shown from his days as a left-back at Southampton to the forward he is in Madrid, he knows the importance of rest and recovery. This is something the people at Simba have been able to help Gareth with.

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“A single restless night is apparently enough to weaken our immune systems so when I first met with Simba, we talked about the time I spend travelling to and from games, as I thought that sleeping well after a match and maintaining my regular sleeping patterns would help me perform better.”

Simba went away and created this prototype of an airline seat that incorporated everything they knew about the science of sleep. By focussing upon sleep comfort and support first, the seat, once fully reclined, is just as comfortable as my bed at home.”

Once Gareth Bale is relaxed and ready to sleep, what do you think goes through his mind? What does he dream about? We had to ask about that magical summer that he and his Wales teammates experienced in France – a fairytale so good that there’s a film out about it.

“At the time, it felt like a huge achievement but it wasn’t until we got back to Wales to see all the people lining the streets of Cardiff that the scale of the achievement really set in. When I watched the film, “Don’t Take Me Home,” it brought all the memories rushing back – we’re all lucky that we have that film to look back on.”

But as much as it is nice to reflect, now his recovery from injury is finished the Welshman is very much concentrated on what is now ahead rather than thinking about what he missed out on this season. He said “The gym work became a bit hard, but I’m fit now and ready to contribute to Real Madrid’s season. We’re still competing for the La Liga title and we’re still in the Champions League, so it’d great to be able to come back and try to help the team.”

Competing on two fronts is something Bale joined the Spanish giants to do, leaving Spurs whom he joined after breaking through at Southampton as a teenager. He’s already got two Champions League medals in his ever-growing collection of honours, and as such, is keen to secure a league title that has so far eluded him.

“I haven’t got a La Liga winners medal yet so personally, I would love to win the league. We’ve won a lot since I’ve been here but the whole team knows that the league means a lot to the fans,” that’s not to say he wouldn’t take another Champions League medal, though, especially as the final will be played in his home nation at Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium.

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“Winning the Champions League is the pinnacle of club football so I don’t need much of an incentive. But moments like that are all the more special when you’re able to share them with the people closest to you so it would be a once in a lifetime moment if I was fortunate enough to reach the final and win it for a third time with Madrid.”

Standing in the way of Real Madrid’s passage to Wales is Bayern Munich, the German champions who dismantled Arsenal in the previous round and are managed by Carlo Ancelotti, the man who helped Bale win his first Champions League medal and Real Madrid’s tenth trophy. To be at his best, he will need to rest and make sure he gets those 10 hours of shut-eye. If he is at his sharpest, Bayern will have a problem on their hands, and Bale might just have the people at Simba to thank.