Kit Bag

'Gareth! Stop touching your hair!’
Gareth Bale used to drive former manager Harry Redknapp mad by constantly playing with his hair. Nick Potts / PA
Nick Potts

'Gareth! Stop touching your hair!’


Harry Redknapp, the former Tottenham Hotspur manager, has revealed that he feared Gareth Bale was too preoccupied with his hairstyle to make it as a leading footballer.

Bale left Spurs for Real Madrid last month for a reported world-record transfer fee of €100 million (Dh499m), but Redknapp said he used to have doubts about the forward’s strength of character.

“He drove me mad in training,” wrote Redknapp in his autobiography, which is being serialised in British newspaper the Daily Mail. “Technically, he was outstanding, but he always seemed to be playing with his hair.

“It was never right. He’d be flicking the fringe or wiping it out of his eyes and I would be going quietly mad, just watching. ‘Gareth, leave your Barnet alone! Gareth! Stop touching your hair!’”

“Barnet” is cockney rhyming slang for “hair”, derived from a rhyme with “Barnet Fair”.

Redknapp, who now manages second-tier Queens Park Rangers, was also worried about Bale’s propensity for injury.

“He was always getting a little knock in training, too. He’d go down then limp off and I always thought the physios made too much fuss of him,” he said.

“It was the same pattern every morning. Gareth would tumble and stay there, and they’d all go running over. In the end I told them just to leave him alone.”

Bale, 24, who on Tuesday was named Football Association of Wales’ Player of the Year, has made just three appearances since moving to the Bernabeu due to a thigh injury which has also ruled him out of Wales’ final two World Cup qualifying matches.

– Agence France-Presse