Bale: Diving? Self-preservation more like
Published 16:09 08/03/12 By Darren Lewis
Gareth Bale has hit back at claims he is a serial diver insisting: “I’m trying to save my career”.
The Spurs winger has had to put up with ‘cheat’ jibes after TV replays in recent matches showed controversial penalty incidents awarded in his favour.
But Bale, who has suffered a series of punishing tackles over the past two seasons from opposition players, has defiantly answered his critics.
The Welshman, 22, said: “If people want to say I’m diving they can. But at the end of the day I’m trying to get out of the way and save myself and my career.
“People want to take you out and get you out of the game. I suppose you can take it as a compliment. It’s not nice but it’s to be expected.
“They think it’s the only way they can stop you. But the best players just get on with it. If they get knocked down, they just get up again until it really hurts.”
Only this week, Stevenage defender Mark Roberts claimed Bale “went down easily” for the penalty which turned Tottenham’s FA Cup last-16 tie in the north London club’s favour.
Bale was also heavily criticised by pundits for the incident that led to his club being handed a spot-kick to go 2-0 up against Arsenal in the recent north London derby.
Ex-referee Graham Poll claimed Mike Dean had been “fooled” into giving it after Bale’s trailing leg had been caught by Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Bale added: “[The criticism is] a bit annoying. But when you have got people flying in at you all the time, it’s not really diving, you’re just trying to get out of the way of the challenges if anything.”
Bale has been fouled more than any other Tottenham player this season, and only 12 Premier League players have been the victim of more illegal challenges than he has.
Last season, the rough treatment took its toll as he was forced on to the sidelines for much of the second half of the campaign.
Now he maintains he has learned to get out of the way more often.
He added: “If you stand there, you’re going to get a whack.
“Sometimes it looks like you’re diving, but when someone’s coming across, you’re just trying to get out of the way, and because they haven’t touched you it looks like you’re diving.
“It’s a difficult one. You can obviously see why people say you’re diving, but at the end of the day I would rather do what I do than get hurt.”
Bale was speaking in the aftermath of Tottenham’s win over Stevenage to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.
The victory came at a price with his team-mate Michael Dawson expected to be ruled out for the remainder of the season following a foul from Boro striker Chris Beardsley.
Bale, for his part, received yet more meaty challenges in the match but simply dusted himself and got on with the game.
The approach has drawn praise and a stauch defence from boss Harry Redknapp who maintains Bale, like the great players such as Messi, Ronaldo and Robin van Persie, has to get used to being kicked.
Bale added: “You just get used to it and take it as a compliment. You just keep going at them and think ‘They can’t stop me, the only way they can is to foul me.’
“I’ve got a few people sent off this year by doing that. It’s part of the game, you just get up and keep going.
“But whenever a challenge comes in I am more likely to try to get out of the way and not get hurt, rather than get hurt. I tend not to dive.
“People do see us diving but at the end of the day there are certain things you can do to dive if someone doesn’t go in for a challenge.”
Bale is hopeful of being fit for the trip to Goodison Park after coming through Wednesday night's game despite suffering with a virus recently.
"I found it difficult in the first half but I felt stronger as the game went on," he said. "It was good to get some running into my legs and hopefully now I can kick on."
GARETH BALE BY THE NUMBERS
Most Fouled Players
Player Team Fouled
Gutierrez Newcastle 62
Moses Wigan 61
Dempsey Fulham 53
Dyer Swansea 52
Suarez Liverpool 51
Sessegnon Sunderland 50
Holt Norwich 46
Dembele Fulham 45
Arteta Arsenal 43
Barton QPR 42
Doyle Wolves 42
Sinclair Swansea 42
Bale Tottenham 41
Bookings For Simulation
Player Team Yellows
Bale Tottenham 2
Agger Liverpool 1
Balotelli Manchester City 1
Cox West Brom 1
Dorrans West Brom 1
Holt Norwich 1
Pratley Bolton 1
Stearman Wolves 1
Sturridge Chelsea 1
Torres Chelsea 1
Zabaleta Manchester City 1
Van Persie Arsenal 1