Gareth Bale still in love with football, insists Wales boss Ryan Giggs
Wales boss Ryan Giggs has dismissed claims Gareth Bale has fallen out of love with football and insists the Real Madrid star's enthusiasm is as strong as ever.
Forward Bale endured a torrid end to the season, as Real manager Zinedine Zidane dropped him from his starting XI and even refused to bring him off the bench in the final league game.
Bale has also become a regular target for the La Liga club's fans with a recent poll of almost five million Real supporters indicating only nine per cent wanted him to stay at the Bernabeu.
However the 29-year-old remains Wales' talisman heading into European Qualifiers against Croatia and Hungary, and Giggs said: "I saw him this week (at a Portugal training camp) and he looked like he enjoyed football to me.
"He was sharp, he wanted the ball, and he was practising his trademark of cutting in on his left foot. He scored a great goal.
"Afterwards when a lot of the lads went in he was practising his shooting, so that doesn't strike me as someone who just wants to get off and go back to his room.
"It struck me as a professional who still loves football."
Asked if he was surprised by the criticism aimed at Bale in Madrid, Giggs said: "Yes, but I'm not over there. I'm not a Real Madrid fan.
"I don't know the ins and outs and I'm only looking from the outside.
"But you've got a player who won the team the Champions League final last year with one of the best goals you've ever seen and performs for that team week in, week out.
"I remember the original Ronaldo getting stick off Real Madrid fans. I remember Cristiano (Ronaldo) getting stick early doors.
"It's that kind of club, it's a club like no other where the white handkerchiefs come out if they don't like you. That's just the way it is."