Gareth Bale has been having sort of a mini pre-season in order to be ready to play for Real Madrid after the international games break. However, the fact that the club has confirmed he has a chronic disc bulge has alarmed the fans and the press, since it has brought to their minds Jonathan Woodgate’s case.
The centre-back shares with Bale his nationality –British– and the fact that both arrived from a Premier League side. Nevertheless, Real supporters wish the coincidences don’t go any further.
Real Madrid signed Woodgate in 2004 after paying Newcastle 20 million euros. That transfer was heavily criticised, since the player was injured at that time. Los Blancos medical staff didn’t expect the problem to be serious and had no doubt in recommending his signing.
However, things did turn out as they had thought. Woodgate’s injury was more complicated than doctors expected. In fact, the defender didn’t play a single match for Los Merengues in the 2004-2005 season.
Santiago Bernabeu’s crowd had to wait until September 22nd 2005 to see Woodgate make his debut in an official match. It was against Athletic de Bilbao, and it wasn’t the best start: he scored an own goal and was sent off.
Nevertheless, when it looked like he had already come back for good and had already been reported to become one of England’s centre-backs for the 2006 World Cup, he picked up another injury. Thus, he only played 14 games that season for Real.
The club lost confidence in him and decided to send him to Middlesbrough, on loan at first and finally on a permanent deal. In 2007 a poll conducted by sports daily Marca named him the worst signing of the 21st Century. That is why the Madrid faithful will be hoping that Bale won’t be a repeat of the Woodgate saga.