Gareth Bale, on the bench

In Cardiff there is a Real Madrid club and a pub that is owned by one of the Real Madrid players. You might think that in every Zidane game the pub is filled with fervent white fans who sing the anthem of the Tenth between pint and pint. Sometimes it is like that, but not always or in most cases. The secondary and disappointing role of the team in the league and the lack of luck of the owner of the local player conspire against.

Last Sunday, at 8.45 (7.45 British time), the picture was bleak in the Elevens . It is seen that the game against Girona did not appear as very attractive and / or that the Erasmus that mostly populate the association had a lot of hangover accumulated or eager to honor the nickname of their scholarship (orgasmus) frolicking with students of other nationalities . The fact is that at that hour, literally, at the Elevens we were Mark, the bearded bartender; Geraint, the cook, whose presence in the stoves was sensed on the other side; and a server of yours.

If it were not for the plasma screens, which offered the game of Madrid along with other unavoidable dates of sport, and that did not exist yet in Sinatra's time, the scene would refer to that song of Ol 'Blue Eyes in which the crooner, irremediably drunk, opened his heart in two to Joe (mine is called Mark but what else?)

It's a quarter to eight.

There's no one in the place [19659006] except you and me.

So set 'em up, Mark.

I got a little story

I think you should know.

That's the scene. I do not have, in fact, any story to tell Mark, much less one that I should know, and if I have it, there are not enough pints to believe it. In the nearest screen Lucas Vázquez just marked the third, which is celebrated with a nod of approval from Mark and a finger pointing to the ceiling for mine. It's a shallow joy, Sunday afternoon with snow, and while what reaches our ears is not a melancholy piano, but the distorted voices of Sky Sports commentators, a leaden atmosphere hangs over the room. There is a fatum, an uncomfortable and sadness at the bottom of the glass. Gareth is on the bench and in June he could leave. It seems that Mark does not even want to talk about it. He is an exemplary and proud Welsh Madridista and is, of course, very much of Gareth.

We're drinking, my friend

to the end

of a brief episode.

Make it one for Gareth [19659015] and one more for the road

Gareth Bale, on the bench.

If I wanted to see the memorabilia of the place again (but I do not want to, no, I do not want to) I would stand up now and staggering slightly, I would go down the small hall to the showcases where the boots were shown to the public Gareth at the Milan Final

-Look, son- I would tell my son if I wanted to go to the showcase (and if my son was there with me) – look. With this boot Gareth kicked, lame lost otherwise, the penalty that he played in the shoot. Goal. Gol, son. There are players who are living legend of Madrid, who also are deserving, and who have never starred in such a moment. There are living legends of Real Madrid that not only have not shot a penalty at the edge of life and death in a Champions League Final, but have never played that Final. And they are myths. But Gareth is not, not for many, not perhaps for most, and you know why? Because he is fragile, son, he does not guarantee continuity. And who, if not the chupatintas and the businessman of that planet of the Little Prince, wants continuity wherever there is glory. But Gareth is fragile, son. Fragile as childhood. Fragile as happiness. Fragile as Marilyn.

I look up at the other showcase and see the shirt that Gareth wore in Milan, signed by all his colleagues one by one.

-This, son, is Gareth telling us: “Do not miss it I have played and won with all these soccer geniuses. ” It is the Madridista that Gareth Bale was at your age projecting into the future and entrusting us with his dreams. “Can you imagine that one day …?” It is a wink of the future to that past, and if a DeLorean traveled to Milan (like the one of that film that I have put you and you like so much) maybe now we could see how the signatures of Marcelo, of Cristiano, of Modric, begin to fade but do not. You are here, son, look at them well. There is naivety, there is nobility in those firms that speak of ambitions and love and madridism, fucking madridism. Yes, son, I know that is not said.

An extemporaneous voice suddenly brings me out of my reverie. Madrid has scored the fourth and I understand that I am not with my son and that I am not in front of the showcases but resting on the bar, on the other side of which Mark smiles in a bittersweet way while he serves me another pint.

-Christian – Mice Mark, enunciating the penultimate scorer as much as his desire to close. It's been a long day for him.

Well, that's how it goes.

And Mark, I know you're getting anxious to close.

The commentator now announces that Gareth is on the field and the news is received with quiet expectation and a note of unreality: the owner of the place on TV. Neither of them (neither Mark nor I) exposes it in those terms but we both smile according to them.

-There will be free round if you dial, right?

-You know I can not.

-How are you? the British.

-I am only Welsh.

-Whatever you are.

We already know how the British are and we already know how Gareth is, that he does not miss the opportunity to receive an inside pass and pull with his bad leg The rival goalkeeper reaches to touch the ball, which enters the goal crying. Crying. How appropriate.

The voices of Sky Sports alert Geraint, the cook, who comes out of the cave (there is little left for him to do there) to see the repetition. The three of us hit the palms with nonsense. There are intimate celebrations that say much more than the applause of a stadium. The cameras point to Gareth who obviously does not know that the goal is for the three of us and that he does not know that we know it even if we do not say so. The sensation is so rare, there is a sense of privacy so alarming that it is almost as if Gareth were there, with us, celebrating another's goal. Almost, a little, it is. The goal of another

But this torch that I've found

is gotta be drowned

or it soon might explode.

Make it one for Gareth

and one more for the road

Wherever that road takes you, Gareth, it bears on your forehead the kiss of my gratitude. This has all the aspect of a farewell. Before, I sense a last outburst of passion and a last drink (one more, one for yourself, one for the road) raised to heaven. After, please take the shoulder of the Madridista child you went and walk, Gareth, walk


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