Ex-Hibs keeper McNeil: I’m delighted for ex-Southampton mate Bale!

Andrew McNeil’s football career is in stark contrast to that of Real Madrid new boy Gareth Bale.

Andrew McNeil’s football career is in stark contrast to that of Real Madrid new boy Gareth Bale.

The pair came through Southampton’s youth academy together about seven years ago with goalkeeper McNeil now on the verge of a move to New Zealand club WaiBOP United.

On the flipside of the coin, Bale left Tottenham to sign with Real in a deal which is set to land him around £300,000-a-week.

McNeil, who has had spells with Hibernian, Montrose, Raith Rovers and Livingston, says he is trying something new just to see if he can make a living playing away from Scotland while his old mate has become the world’s most expensive player.

“I’m delighted for Gareth. He’s been different class the last couple of years and seems to get better every season. It will be a big change for him but I think he’ll do great there,” he revealed to the Daily Record.

“I spoke to him at the end of last season when Tottenham were pushing for the Champions League spot.

“He was happy there but getting the chance to go to Real Madrid is incredible so I’m not surprised he didn’t turn it down.”

But McNeil added that Bale’s new wages won’t change the person he has become since he was a skinny kid at St Mary’s.

“The way footballers are elevated to superstar status it makes them seem untouchable when in reality Gareth Bale is just a young father who happens to be very good at his job,” he added.

“He’s a nice guy, very humble and pleasant. He’s no different to 95 per cent of people you meet but because he’s good at football people sometimes have preconceptions.

“He’s reportedly on £300,000 a week at Real Madrid but at Southampton we were on £80 as a first year scholar which went up to £90 in your second year before the club offered you a professional deal.

“At 15 and 16 Gareth hadn’t quite developed – he was nowhere near as tall or fast as he is now – so I think when he started to develop physically it was a huge advantage.

“He always had decent technical ability but that’s not what sets him apart from the rest, it’s his physical attributes.

“If you’d asked me then if Gareth Bale would one day be the most expensive footballer in the world I would have said no.

“The main thing will be how he integrates into that team and establishes himself because he’s gone from being the main man at Spurs to one of many at Madrid.”

 
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