Gareth Bale ready to seize moment as Wales’s World Cup ‘dream’ kicks off

‘Each game will be incredible,’ insists the Wales captain as he gets ready to fulfil his childhood ambition after long waitHe is the boy from Whitchurch, north Cardiff, about to lead Wales on the world stage. Gareth Bale’s first World Cup memories are a little hazy – probably France 98, he says – not helped by the sustained absence of his country and a team to truly get behind. “I just remember having this pencil case with the [tournament] logo on it,” he says. But a moment that perhaps seemed as though it would elude a glittering, superstar career stacked with honours and individual accolades is finally here. Towards one end of the Corniche, Doha’s opulent waterfront, an industrial-sized image of Bale, plastered on to the facade of a sparkling skyscraper, glistens above the city.Bale remains a big deal, a commercial entity in his own right, but the fire in him to prove he can still do the business on the pitch burns brightly. Recent evidence has already suggested as much: a fortnight ago he scored an 128th-minute leaping header to help Los Angeles FC lift the MLS Cup. For Wales to be able to lean on their captain, a player who has a handy habit of calmly rising to the occasion, is something of a priceless commodity at their first World Cup finals for 64 years. Bale and his teammates are determined to enjoy however long this latest ride lasts.

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