BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2018: Gareth Bale profile

Gareth Bale won his third Champions League title with Real Madrid after scoring with a spectacular overhead kick against Liverpool in the 20178 final
Gareth Bale won his fourth Champions League title with Real Madrid after scoring with a spectacular overhead kick
BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year award 2018
Venue: Celtic Manor Resort, Newport Date and time: Tuesday, 4 December at 21:00 GMT
Coverage: Results and updates on BBC Wales Today, the BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru

The best players make an impact on the biggest stages and footballer Gareth Bale again underlined his talent for club and country in 2018.

The 29-year-old had missed out on Real Madrid's starting line-up for the Champions League final in May, but with the game against Liverpool balanced delicately at 1-1 the Wales forward came off the bench in the 61st minute.

Three minutes later Bale produced one of the great European goals with a spectacular overhead kick that broke Liverpool's resistance, going on to score again as Real sealed a 3-1 win in Kiev - the fourth time Bale has been crowned king of Europe with the Spanish giants.

Two months before Bale had starred for Wales, with his hat-trick in the 6-0 win over China in the China Cup elevating him as his country's record goal-scorer - reaching 29 international goals to surpass Wales and Liverpool great Ian Rush.

Bale has already stretched that mark to 31, with further strikes in Wales' Nations League campaign as they crushed the Republic of Ireland 4-1 in September and lost narrowly to Denmark in Cardiff in their last game in November.

These landmark moments have been gained to the backdrop of another year in which the forward has struggled with injuries, but has been able to produce his top form when team-mates have needed him most.

Bale was raised in Cardiff and attended Eglwys Newydd primary school before going to Whitchurch High School - which also produced British and Irish Lions rugby union captain Sam Warburton and fellow Welsh Sports Personality 2018 nominee, cyclist Geraint Thomas - and was then taken on as a scholar by Southampton Football Club.

In December 2006, Bale won the Carwyn James Award for the BBC Wales Young Sports Personality of the Year, and was named the Football League Young Player of the Year 2006-7. In 2010 he would also be voted the senior BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year.

Gareth Bale celebrates scoring in Wales' 4-1 Nations league win over the Republic of Ireland in September
Gareth Bale celebrates scoring in Wales' 4-1 Nations league win over the Republic of Ireland in September

He made his Wales debut in a 2-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago in May 2006, aged just 16 years and 315 days, which at the time made Bale Wales' youngest international until Harry Wilson was capped in 2013.

Bale remains Wales' youngest goal-scorer, as the following October after making his senior debut he curled home a free-kick in a 5-1 loss against Slovakia in Cardiff.

He signed for Spurs in May 2007 in a £5m deal and, after an extended period working to establish himself as a first-team regular, found himself moved from his formative left-back position into a more attacking role on the left wing.

Bale flourished in his new position and the goals rolled in while his all-round play continued to improve, prompting Real Madrid to offer a then world record £85.3m transfer fee to sign him on 1 September 2013.

The end of that season saw Bale help his new club to a trophy double of the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

During his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, Bale has gone on to lift three more Champions Leagues, the La Liga title in 2016-17, a Supercopa de Espana, two Uefa Super Cups and a Fifa Club World Cup.

Bale is the highest scoring British footballer to have played in La Liga, his current tally of 73 league goals well clear of the 42 Gary Lineker scored for Barcelona.

For his country, Bale's six goals helped Wales qualify for Euro 2016 - their first major tournament since 1958 - scoring three more goals in France as they reached the semi-finals.

The following season Bale helped bring Wales within a whisker of reaching the World Cup, playing in both wins over Austria and Moldova in September 2017 that put them back into qualifying contention.

But a calf strain ruled him out of Wales' last two World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and the Republic of Ireland - with the Republic winning in Cardiff to end Wales' hopes of making the finals in Russia.

Voting for BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2018 opened at 08:00 GMT on Monday, 26 November and closed at 18:00 GMT on Sunday, 2 December.

Full voting terms and conditions are available on the BBC website and will also be carried on radio and television.

The winner will be unveiled on Tuesday, 4 December.

This event is not connected with the UK Sports Personality of the Year and is for the Wales award only.

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