Champions League: Ian Rush says final puts Wales 'on world stage'

Ian Rush
Rush won the then European Cup with Liverpool in 1981 and 1984

Wales' top goalscorer Ian Rush expects the Champions League final at Cardiff's Principality Stadium to cement Wales place on the international stage.

The semi-final draw has left open the prospect of Rush's ex-club Juventus facing Gareth Bale's Real Madrid in his hometown on Saturday, 3 June.

"All the world will be watching the final and they will all know where Wales is after this," said Rush.

The trophy has been flown into Cardiff amid great excitement.

Champions League cups paraded through Cardiff

The showpiece match could be played for the first time under a closed roof.

Rush, an ambassador for the Champions League Final, has his own wish-list for the match and it is one he believes will satisfy Welsh supporters.

Rush is a former Juventus player and he would like to see his former club come up against Real Madrid and their current Welsh superstar.

"My dream final is Juventus against Real Madrid," he said.

"We were not sure what was going to happen, but I've said this from day one, since I was an ambassador for Uefa that that would be my dream final.

"I played for Juventus and Real Madrid have got Gareth Bale and that would be a dream final for a lot of Welsh people as well.

"We saw how special the Euros were and this takes it to a different level. For Wales as a country, it's about going on to bigger and better things.

"I hope it's a great game and no matter who it is, it's going to be a great occasion."

Rush, who made 73 international appearances for Wales, admits he is surprised at the progress Welsh football has made both on and off the pitch.

'Playing in Cardiff would be the icing on the cake for Gareth'

He added: "If you'd asked in in the 1990s, I would never have thought that it was going to happen, that you'd ever see a Champions League Final in Wales, but, over the last few years, things have come on in Wales , after the Euros it was fantastic.

"I think Gareth would give anything to play in the final in Wales. It would not surprise if he does play and he gets the winning goal."

Bale to break Rush records?

Bale, 27, has established himself as a superstar on the world football stage at Madrid alongside teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.

Bale already two Champions League winners' medals, the same number of European Cup wins Rush managed with Liverpool.

Gareth Bale
For Wales Gareth Bale has 26 goals, just two behind Ian Rush's record total

And despite Rush leading the all-time scoring list for Wales with 28 goals, Bale is in second, just two behind.

Rush says he is looking forward to Bale taking his crown.

"People say to me, what would you think if Gareth Bale breaks your record? I'd be worried if it wasn't a world class player (that did it), but that's what he is," he said.

"It's Gareth Bale, he's young and he's going to get better. It's going to be something special from him because he is a special player."

Wales' greatest?

But Rush, now 55, believes it is too early to decide if Bale is Wales greatest ever footballer.

John Charles
John Charles is considered by many to be Wales' greatest ever player

"You can't say that at the moment because I think Gareth can still get better," added Rush.

"He's playing in a great side. But people do tend to forget about (another former Juve player) John Charles. He was a super player and then Ryan Giggs when he was playing too.

"But Gareth's well on his way to that though. You ask what he's achieved and what he's done when he's finished playing for his club and country and if he has done it all, then the answer then would be possibly yes."

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