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Gareth Bale has said he does not understand the criticism he’s received for playing golf — adding that his hobby helps him perform on the pitch.

The Real Madrid forward is a huge golf fan, and even recreated three full-size holes in the garden of his home in south Wales.

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“A lot of people have problems with me playing golf, I don’t know what the reason is,” Bale told the Erik Anders Lang podcast. “I’ve spoken to doctors and everybody’s fine with it.

“The media have this perception that it’s not good for me. ‘You should be resting, it can cause problems, injuries.’ In America, I know Steph Curry plays maybe on the morning of a game. Here, if I play two days before a game it’s like ‘what’s he doing?'”

Bale is training with his Real Madrid teammates in preparation for the return of La Liga, with the league aiming for a June 11 restart to complete the 2019-20 season. Madrid are second in the table, two points behind rivals Barcelona, with 11 games left to play.

Bale, 30, has endured a difficult campaign so far, struggling with injuries and being whistled by fans at the Bernabeu after his infamous “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order” flag celebration after helping his country qualify for Euro 2020.

“I just like going out to play, thinking I’ve got 18 holes ahead of me,” Bale said. “You can get away from the football, away from anything negative that’s going on, and reset your mind, and the next day you feel a bit more fresh and ready to go and concentrate and feel better about football again.”

Bale received more positive headlines in April when it emerged that he was donating over €1 million to hospitals in Wales and Spain to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

He came close to leaving Real Madrid last summer before a move to China broke down, and said earlier this month that he would “definitely be interested” in playing in MLS in the future.

“The thing with football now is everything is based around results. That’s the problem,” Bale said. “You might play amazingly, not score for five games and everyone says ‘he’s having a terrible time.’

“People just like goals, assists, ‘wow’ things. And sometimes that doesn’t always happen. I’ve played terribly, then I’ve scored two goals, and everyone says ‘great game.’

“People can have their own opinions, as long as I know I’ve tried my best and I’ve played as well as I can then I’m happy with that.”

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