Wales star Gareth Bale has reiterated his opinion that his side have more pride and passion than rivals England ahead of their Euro 2016 clash.
The Real Madrid forward insisted prior to the opening Group B game against Slovakia that he felt as though there was more pride and passion from a Welsh perspective, which in turn drew a response from the England camp, with Roy Hodgson labelling it ‘disrespectful’.
While Jack Wilshere and Adam Lallana have also been drawn into the debate, Bale cut a relaxed figure at a press conference on Tuesday as he shrugged off any criticism of his comments as he insisted that it was merely his opinion and others could disagree if they want to.
“It’s good that they bit,” he said with a smile to the assembled media.
“I never said that they didn’t have passion or pride. I just feel in my opinion that we have more and I’m sure they have the opinion that they have more also.
“People obviously like to take things out of context a bit. I’m happy with my comments and I feel we have a massive team spirit – probably the best I have seen in teams.
“Whether it’s rugby or football, whatever the sport in Wales we just seem to have that next level. You really feel it on the pitch, watching the games and I’m just giving my opinion.”
The 26-year-old noted that England are a good side and it will be tough for him and his teammates to secure a positive result in Lens on Thursday afternoon.
Nevertheless, having kicked off the tournament with a win, while England suffered disappointment in their 1-1 draw with Russia, as well as being distracted by off-the-field matters this past week, it appears as though this could well be Wales’ best opportunity to beat their rivals in some time.
Bale will play a crucial role in making that happen, and after famously telling the media prior to the Champions League final last month that no Atletico Madrid player would make the Real Madrid starting line-up he had a similar answer on Tuesday.
Asked how many England players would get into the Wales starting line-up, Bale responded with a smile: “None”.