My name is Gareth Gale, and I'm about to become the biggest Barcelona fan in the world. "Gareth Gale," you might say, "that sounds a lot like Gareth Bale." Yeah, that's because my parents were terribly unoriginal, so when the Bale family next door came home with their son Gareth for the first time, they decided to name me Gareth as well when I was born a week later. Cute.
Unfortunately our parallels didn't end there. We grew up playing football against each other, only I was not nearly as talented, or really as athletic as Bale. When we'd go against each other, he seemed to go out of his way to humiliate me, beating me with fancy tricks when it was just as easy to dribble by me. He'd trip me when I tried to go by him myself. "Always the older, always the better Gareth," he'd tell me quietly. And to think our parents thought we were friends.
I developed an irregular heartbeat at the age of 12, and, convinced that footballing stardom was my path to riches, my parents made me continue to play football, only converting to the less physically strenuous position of goalkeeper. This put me in Bale's line of fire even more, and every time he scored against me, he'd remind me of my predicament by making the shape of a heart with his hands. The worst moment was when he came in against me on a breakaway and, as I slid out at him, he jumped over me, feet over his head and crying out in fake pain whilst simultaneously making that damned heart sign before crashing to the ground and rolling five times. The referee awarded him a penalty and sent me off. I hate that heart sign. Every time he does it I come within moments of smashing my television.
Eventually I gave up playing football because it was obvious that I was not bound for stardom. Bale, on the other hand, played in England at 16 with Southampton. I decorated my room at home with Portsmouth paraphernalia. When he moved to Spurs, I brought in the Arsenal goods. I put every negative media piece about him up on the walls, waiting for the day that he'd formally become a failure and come back to Cardiff with his tail between his legs. As you know, quite the opposite has happened.
With his transfer to Real Madrid all but sealed, I've gathered every Barcelona shirt, scarf, and cap I can find. He's packing himself, his family, and his mocking heart celebration and heading to Spain, and that's just fine with me. One of these days he's going to go into a tackle with Sergio Busquets, only there won't be any contact and they'll both fall to the ground, writhing in agony and the world will see him for who he is. He'll fail and be forced to return to Wales, and I'll be waiting.