Former Liverpool and Wales striker Ian Rush has admitted he is baffled by the way his fellow countryman Gareth Bale has been treated by Real Madrid’s fans.
His quotes came following a poll in Spanish newspaper AS earlier this week, which revealed that 91 per cent of those who took part want to see Bale exit the Bernabeu.
The Cardiff-born winger has also fallen dramatically out of favour under manager Zinedine Zidane, but Rush claims those in the stands should be applauding the 29-year-old, not heaping criticism on him.
“When I look at his record at Real, he has an incredible record,” Rush told the BBC, “and I don't know what happens there.”
Despite being hampered by injuries in recent seasons, Bale has enjoyed some huge moments in the white of Real – none more so than his dramatic introduction from the bench in last season’s Champions League final and his extraordinary overhead kick that gave the Spaniards the lead against Liverpool.
However, an unappreciative air has surrounded Bale this season. So far, noises from the player’s camp have suggested he intends to stick it out in the Spanish capital, but Rush says the ball is in his court and English clubs would queue up to battle for his signature.
“At the end of the day, he's got to go where he wants to go,” said the ex-Juventus and Newcastle forward, now 57. “Clubs don't tell him where to go.
“If Gareth wants to stay there, stay there. But I'm sure if he wants to come back (to English football), there'll be lots of clubs after him.
“I think people are seeing things that I haven't been seeing. They should be applauding Gareth Bale because I was there last year (For the Champions League final) - he scored a wonder goal against Liverpool.
“As soon as he came on as sub, I knew he was going to score, but I didn't think he'd score a goal that good and they should be saying to him ‘thank you so much for your service’.”