Born in Cardiff, Gareth Bale, 32, signed to Southampton at 16 and transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007. In 2013, he became the most expensive player ever when he moved to Real Madrid for €100m. This year, he captained Wales in the delayed European championship. He is co-founder of Rowbots gyms, and lives between Madrid and south Wales with his wife, Emma, and their four children.
What is your greatest fear?
Not being the best version of myself. In football and in life.
What is your most treasured possession?
My rowing machine. It keeps me fit and mentally sharp during the off-season.
What makes you unhappy?
Nothing. Life is what you make it. You can always find the good in any situation.
Who would play you in the film of your life?
I wouldn’t want anyone else to play me.
What is your favourite word?
I prefer a phrase: “It’s time… to #SwitchOn”. It’s amazing how only a few words can say so much. Whenever I hear that phrase, I know it’s time to put on my game face.
Which book changed your life?
Soccer Tough by Dan Abrahams, a world-renowned sports psychologist. His book explains how we all have the ability to perform when pressure is at its highest and the opposition is strongest – you just need to unlock it.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I just wanted to fulfil my potential.
How do you relax?
Playing golf or at home with friends and loved ones. With the pressures associated with being a professional footballer, I find relaxation in simplicity.
What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
That I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t deserve to be where I was. In football and in life, you have to be resilient and harness the power of self-belief.
Is it better to give or to receive?
Both can be just as rewarding as each other.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Watching the PGA Tour until late at night. I love watching golf. What I am inspired by the most is how the top players can perform under such huge pressure, especially in a sport where the margin for error and the difference between a good shot and a bad shot is so small.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Nothing. Without my past I wouldn’t be who I am today.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Nothing is the same as the sense of pride and achievement I feel when I see my kids growing up and enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
What keeps you awake at night?
I sleep very well. Nothing keeps you awake when you know within yourself how much you care, how much you give, and that you always try your best. And that’s true for me, whether it’s on the pitch, on the international stage leading the line for my country, or at home.
How would you like to be remembered?
I only really care about my own opinion of myself, and my family and friends’ opinion of me. The rest is just noise.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Always take time to recharge. You can’t pour from an empty glass.