Bale almost thrown to the Wolves, says Doyle

Ireland striker Kevin Doyle

Aidan Fitzmaurice

A story from 2009 in an English newspaper, which we won't embarrass by naming, that claimed "Spurs flop" Gareth Bale was on his way to Birmingham is seen as one of the all-time great examples of what came to be known as fake news.

But maybe it's not that wide of the mark as Ireland man Kevin Doyle can recall a time in the pre-Galactico career of Bale where he almost joined that large Irish colony in the English midlands

"I remember at Wolves that he was nearly coming to us on loan in one of the transfer windows. That shows how far he has come in the last six or seven years," says Doyle, the Colorado-based forward who is hoping to make his first appearance of the World Cup campaign on Friday.

"He was nearly coming on loan to Wolves but I think that someone got injured at Spurs and the deal fell through."

But Doyle, who played against Bale in that Ireland-Wales clash at Croke Park 10 years ago, has nothing but admiration for the Welsh talisman.

"He's an unbelievable player - I would hate to have to mark him, as anyone would. It's just that natural speed and he is now one of the best players in the world," says Doyle.

"You watch all of Wales' highlights, we watched their set pieces and he is in the box heading them, getting a lot of their goals and stuff that you would not think about. He's there winning headers in the box. he's got everything so he's a class player.

"He seemed to struggle at first at Spurs but came back to become the world's most expensive player at one stage."

That's why Doyle insists Ireland have to be more alert than usual to the danger one man can pose. "He is involved in lots of their goals, nearly every thing because he is so good. So he deserves the focus to be on him," he added.

"If we had him, it would be the other way around and rightly so. If you can curtail him, it would make a big difference to how Wales play."


While 2016 saw Bale shine on the world stage with Wales, international football has not been so kind to Doyle. Excluding friendly games, his last cap was in the rout at home to Gibraltar in 2014, but his last competitive start was in the pre-O'Neill days, at home to Kazakhstan three and a half years ago.

But with Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick out due to injury, Doyle has moved up the ladder, though his MLS season was disrupted by an enforced absence, due to concussion.

"We have had a few injuries so I have more of a chance than I'd have had a week ago, if I do, I will be fine, I missed one game last week, with concussion, but fitness wise I will be fresh," says Doyle, who is (along with John O'Shea and Aiden McGeady) one of the survivors from the 1-0 win over Wales in 2007.