Money hasn't changed 'Tarzan' Bale: Ledley

LONDON • Joe Ledley insists Gareth Bale is treated no differently within the Wales squad after the Real Madrid star signed a new contract that makes him one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the world.

The Crystal Palace midfielder says his international team-mates still "hammer" Bale for anything and everything, including a resemblance to Tarzan.

Bale is projected to earn about £150 million (S$261.4 million) over the next six years in salaries and bonuses after agreeing an extended deal with Real that runs until 2022.

"He deserves every penny and whatever he gets in life," Ledley said. "He's proven to be one of the greatest players on this planet. There is no jealousy whatsoever. We have known Gareth since he was a boy at Southampton and I haven't seen any change in him at all - that is brilliant on his behalf.

"He's just one of the boys - we don't care who he is, we will still hammer him and he will hammer us. That's the banter we have here. If you ask him, he loves meeting up with Wales and that is the togetherness we have in this squad."

Asked what the players give their talisman the most stick about, Ledley recalled the moment last month during the 1-1 draw against Georgia when Bale had a bad hair day.

"We saw that (when his bun collapsed and his hair fell down), we had him a bit for that. He looked like Tarzan," Ledley said.

Wales will need Bale to be at his best on the pitch tomorrow, when they take on Serbia in Cardiff in a World Cup qualifier.

Wales have not lost a competitive match at home since Serbia beat them 3-0 in September 2013.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Money hasn't changed 'Tarzan' Bale: Ledley'. Print Edition | Subscribe