MADRID (Reuters) – Gareth Bale was greeted by loud boos on Saturday as he made his first competitive appearance on the Santiago Bernabeu pitch in more than two years during Real Madrid’s 2-0 win over Getafe.
The 32-year-old had made only four previous league appearances for Real this season — all away — and his last outing at the club’s home ground had been in February 2020 when Madrid were beaten 2-1 by Manchester City in the Champions League.
In the past Bale, who joined Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 for a then-record transfer fee of 100 million euros, has had run-ins with the club’s management and almost left in 2020 after he fell out of favour with then manager Zinedine Zidane.
Recently, however, he has suffered multiple fitness setbacks and the fans and as well as local media have turned on him.
“The booing is understandable but our fans need to understand that their support is very important too,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters.
“Yes, Bale was booed but he is a serious professional, he is doing well in training and if necessary he will play this final stretch of the season. The fans have to understand that.”
Bale recently hit out at Spanish newspaper Marca for comparing him to a “parasite” over claims that he was sucking money out of the Spanish club.
He was also accused by Madrid media of faking a back injury after he missed Real Madrid’s 4-0 defeat by Barcelona but then showed up for his country just four days later to score two goals as Wales beat Austria in a World Cup playoff game.
But Bale, who came on as a substitute midway through the second half on Saturday, still has the backing of his Madrid team mates.
“We all are with Bale,” said Real Madrid captain Marcelo.
“It is difficult, it has happened to many people at Santiago Bernabeu that has a very demanding fanbase but we are all important.
“We are at the end of the season, we have a lot at stake, we have to help each other. It’s sad but we all have to go out there and give our best.”
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(Reporting by Fernando Kallas, editing by Pritha Sarkar)