GARETH BALE has revealed being benched by Harry Redknapp for a year was worse than his last 12 months at Real Madrid.
Tottenham bizarrely failed to win any of the first 24 Premier League games he was involved in and he was benched for the better part of a year at White Hart Lane during an injury-hit start.
The Welshman, 30, is back with his national team and has spoken for the first time about his difficulties at Madrid.
Real tried to sell the former world record player to Jiangsu Suning over the summer, but the move collapsed after it was aborted by the Spanish giants.
The nightmare was made worse by the fact that he was expected to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure from the Bernabeu, but instead scored just eight La Liga goals last season under Zinedine Zidane.
He said: “It’s not been great but it’s not been the worst.
“I remember not playing for a year under Harry Redknapp!
“It’s not been ideal but I’ve been there before and I know how to deal with it. It’s just about keeping your head down and working hard.
“I keep grinding through everything and had a good pre-season in terms of training and I’ve started the season well.
“I feel good. I feel stronger than ever at the moment. When you get older you learn from your mistakes in the past and do a bit more prevention work in the gym.
“I feel in very good shape so hopefully I can stay on top of that and continue to play well.”
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Bale is back in the goals again and back in favour among the notoriously fickle Madridistas.
His brace at Villarreal helped his side to a point, where they have made an OK start with a win and two draws.
But he says he drowned out all the noise throughout the summer over his future.
He added: “I don’t listen because they don’t know what they’re on about! I don’t read anything. Most people don’t know the situation.
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“It didn’t impact me too much, I had a great summer holidays.
“I kept my head down in pre-season and there was a lot of talk, good and bad, but I just kept working hard in training.
“Things that happened will stay private at the club but if you want answers maybe you need to ask Real Madrid.”