Rob Page: Gareth Bale ‘enjoying retirement' and won't join Wales coaching staff
Gareth Bale will not be joining the Wales coaching staff, manager Rob Page has said.
Former captain Bale ended his stellar playing career in January with a farewell statement announcing he was “stepping down but not stepping away” from the Wales environment.
Page said he wanted to keep the former Real Madrid forward, his country’s most capped men’s player with 111 appearances, involved in some capacity but the Wales manager has now confirmed that will not be in a coaching role.
“I spoke to Gareth on Monday and I’m due to have another conversation with him this week,” Page said ahead of this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers against Armenia and Turkey.
“Nothing particular or specific, just a general. He’s open to conversations and he wants to play a part in the future, but not from a coaching point of view.
“For me to have another voice from the outside watching things is beneficial. He’s enjoying his retirement.”
Bale’s former team-mate Chris Gunter joined Page’s backroom staff ahead of two qualifiers in March, from which Wales made a positive start to Euro 2024 qualifying by picking up four points against Croatia and Latvia.
Page said: “Gunts has come up and he’s a first-class lad. He’s doing his coaching badges, he’s great around the changing room and the lads love him to bits. He’s doing really well at the minute.
“We’ve just had a four-day camp with the under-21s and our EFL players and we’ve given him more responsibility with regards to the training sessions.
“The culture in the changing room is the most important thing. When I had him as a player, he was key to that.
“He was never afraid to come to talk to the coaching staff and I still want that. He drives that for us.”
Wales head to Portugal this week to prepare for their Euro 2024 double-header, with three key players nursing injuries.
Skipper Aaron Ramsey (calf), goalkeeper Danny Ward (dislocated finger) and Neco Williams (broken jaw) missed the final games of the season for their respective clubs.
But Page has been encouraged by his squad playing more Premier League minutes this term, a top-flight total of 251 appearances being 135 more than the previous campaign and the most since the 2016-17 season.
He said: “You want your best players playing at the top level because that will help us to compete against the top teams in Europe and the rest of the world.
“We need our players being exposed to the top teams, whether that’s in the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga or Serie A.
“Thankfully, we now have more of our Welsh players playing at the top level.”