Gareth Bale flashed like a bolt of lightning, covered a little under 60 meters in 8 seconds with the ball near his feet and before anyone could blink an eye, slipped the ball between Barcelona goalkeeper’s legs. Bale’s heart-stopping majestic sprint that night made some of the greatest athletes sit up and take notice. Moroccon athlete, Hicham El Guerrouj is widely regarded as the greatest middle-distance runner of all times and he continues to hold the record for 1500 meters set by him in Rome during an athletic championship in 1998. The record was earlier held by another prominent athlete, the Algerian Noureddine Morceli, who ran with a personal best time of 3:27:37 at France in July 1995. El Guerrouj dominated the middle-distance scene to the extent that he came to be known as the King of Mile in athletic parlance. The King of Mile, who watched Real Madrid beat archrivals Barcelona 2-1 to win the Copa del Rey, remarked that Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale is an athlete, who also plays football. The match was played on April 16, 2014 at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium and though Real had taken an early lead, the equalizer from Barca made the score 1-1. Bale’s wonder goal settled the issue in Real’s favor in the end.
A bigger compliment on Bale’s superlative effort came from none other than the fastest man in the world. 100-meter world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt joined many others in applauding Gareth Bale for the way he scored that 85th minute goal. He found the ball in Real’s own territory and knocked it ahead in the vacant Barcelona half and began his big sprinting chase. Marc Bartra was on Bale’s back as the amazing Welshman accelerated thunderously, before finishing in great style. Usain Bolt said of Bale that the man is the planet’s quickest footballer. The famous Jamaican added that he could only dream of scoring in such a fashion. Bale could not have asked for higher appreciation than that coming from someone capable of covering 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. But when Bolt begins his 100 meter sprint, the field ahead of him clear and unlike Bale, he does not have to bother about either keeping his sight constantly on the ball ahead in front of him, or face resistance from defenders. On the average Bolt covers the first 50 meters in 5 seconds. For a little more distance, Gareth Bale took just over a couple of seconds more for his stunning efforts last Wednesday.
The ex-Tottenham Spurs footballer, who crossed to Real Madrid for an eye-popping world record fee of 85 million euros, has often been under the watchful scrutiny of his detractors. In addition, the presence of champion footballer Cristiano Ronaldo in Real, had kept him playing a second fiddle most times. But he has now justified Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s constant faith in him. That night in Valencia, Ancelotti and his assistant Paul Clement stood at a touching distance from the point, where Bale picked up the ball and broke into a solo run. The two officials were awestruck as they saw their ward move in a “Bolt-like” sprint and finish his act before they could drop their eyelids. Clement was quick to remark that in his lifetime experience of football, he had never seen a goal like that. Lot of people from the days gone by; recalled solo runs from great footballers, and the one which immediately came to mind was the Goal-of-the-century from a deft run by Diego Maradona in Mexico’s World Cup quarterfinal against England in 1986. The pint-sized Maradona received the ball from Hector Enrique in the 54th minute in his own half and broke into a 60 meter dash. It took the great Argentinian only 10 seconds during which he passed five England players, before dribbling around the English goalkeeper. Against Barcelona FC on April 16th, the brilliant Bale was much faster in comparison. Marc Bartra was the only Barca player who tried to fight with Bale but once Bale sped away, Bartra’s chase was in vain. When the match was over, Marca described Bale’s fantastic sprint as a run of a lifetime.