Football: 'Disrespectful' Bale sticks by England jibe ahead of clash

Bale said Wales have more pride and passion than their English counterparts.
Bale said Wales have more pride and passion than their English counterparts.PHOTO: AFP

DINARD, France (AFP) - Wales star Gareth Bale does not care what the England camp thinks of his pre-match attacks and is only thinking about securing a famous victory over them Lens on Thursday.

The 26-year-old Real Madrid forward lit the blue touch paper ahead of the Group B fixture when he claimed that Wales have more pride and passion than their English counterparts, and also accused the Three Lions of arrogance.

England manager Roy Hodgson responded by calling Bale "disrespectful" while Jack Wilshere stated that England have better players and a better team.

"It's good that they bit," Bale said on Tuesday.

"I never said that they didn't have passion and pride, I just feel in my opinion that we have more," he added.

"I'm sure they have their opinion that they have more also. I'm happy with my comments. I feel we've got a massive team spirit, one of the best I've seen - and that's just my opinion.

"People can say what they want. Someone said I disrespected England, which wasn't the case.

"They're entitled to their opinion. I really don't care what they say to be honest. If they feel they have the better squad, good for them.

"We know we're a good team and we know we can beat them on our day."

Bale also mischievously suggested that no players in the England squad would get into the Wales team, which is hardly likely to improve relations ahead of what looks set to a feisty encounter.

Wales know backing up their victory over Slovakia with another three points will guarantee them a place in the knock-out round, while also moving England perilously close to a first-round exit for the second major tournament in a row.

Bale will inevitably be the man expected to spearhead Welsh hopes, but is not feeling any additional pressure.

"I'm not carrying any hopes. As we showed against Slovakia on Saturday, it's all about the team," he said.

"If I have to do some extra running to help my team, I'll do that. If I have to make space for a team-mate, I'll do that as well. It's all about the team for me and for us.

"We'll keep working hard for each other and keep putting performances together.

"Nothing is fazing us, we don't feel any pressure, we just want to enjoy then occasion." Wales have not beaten England since a 1-0 victory over their old rivals in Wrexham in 1984.

That fixture also happens to be the last time the Dragons found the net against their neighbours, and it is a trend midfielder Aaron Ramsey wants to end.

"It's about time we did beat them. We are top, they got a draw, all the pressure is on them. We are having fun," said the Arsenal midfielder.

"We have to concentrate on our own game, we know what we're all about, we know what we're doing.

"Maybe it does give us a little bit of extra motivation because it is England but I don't think you need that much going into a game like this, it is the one everyone was excited for when the draw was made.

"We've been through a lot over the years to get to this point, we've been together through thick and thin. We're seeing the rewards of that.

"We fight for each other, we work our socks off for each other. Everyone saw that in the qualification campaign, and in first game of Euros. We believe in ourselves."