Soccer: The tale of two Bales

Chris Bale's profile is hitting new heights at the Fifa Club World Cup as global media link the midfielder with Welsh maestro and namesake Gareth Bale.

The pragmatic Auckland City player takes the tenuous connection in his stride in his usual calm fashion.

"I don't know Gareth Bale and we don't have a similar playing style except perhaps in that we have a similar work ethic, strong desire and a competitive streak," he said.

Bale, Chris not Gareth, came to New Zealand with his parents several years ago and enjoys the lifestyle the country has to offer, seeing soccer as a bonus rather than his main job.

Its easy to misinterpret his perspective on the game as dismissive, but that's hardly the case.

"When I was younger I was definitely a football supporter. I was a big Liverpool fan but as you get older your priorities change.

"When the realisation comes that you're not going to live your dream as a professional footballer you let that go and learn to appreciate the things you've got," he said.

Bale has been an ever-present in the Auckland City set-up since joining the Navy Blues from Waitakere United at the start of last season and is an important cog in the midfield engine room.

And that attitude of gratitude underpins everything the Kiwi-Welsh Bale is about.

"Since I came to New Zealand I've had it pretty good in football terms. Not many Welsh players can say they've played in four Fifa Club World Cups," he said.

Bale believes Auckland City has a solid look to it this year that gives the Navy Blues a big chance in Wednesday's do-or-die showdown with Raja Casablanca. And he thinks the warm-up match with Espanyol could be a springboard to success.

"We did quite well in the Espanyol match in Barcelona and I'm not afraid to say we dominated the first half of that game against a top team.

"There weren't any youngsters in that Espanyol side and I think we had a lot of positives particularly in the first half, so we should leverage off that success.

Bale acknowledges that Raja Casablanca in a competitive match is a different type of challenge after a 30,000km round-the-world journey but he remains optimistic.

"We've got enough about us to get over the line against Casablanca, we just need to play the way we play. Football is a funny old game, so much comes down to what happens on the day," he said.

Auckland City face Raja Casablanca on Thursday morning (NZT).

- APNZ

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