Gareth Bale on track to equal British record for most European Cup wins

Gareth Bale will equal a British record for most European Cup wins if Real Madrid beat Liverpool in Saturday's final in Kiev.

Victory would hand Bale his fourth Champions League winning medal in just five seasons at the Spanish club, putting him level with Liverpool's Phil Neal and above some of the biggest names in European football.

Neal appeared in
all four of Liverpool's European Cup wins in the 1970s and 1980s, scoring in the 1977 and 1984 finals.

It is still up for discussion as to whether Bale, who scored in the 2014 final and also played a part in 2016 and 2017 wins, will feature on Saturday, having made just three starts in the Champions League this season.

But a medal would take him above Carles Puyol, Iker Casillas, Raul, Franco Baresi, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff, as well as Liverpool legends Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness.

Real Madrid great Francisco Gento holds the record with six European Cup wins (1956, 57, 58, 59, 60 and 66), ahead of AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini on five (1989, 90, 94, 2003 and 07), with the Italian holding the record for the longest period between his first and last win (18 years).

Alessandro Costacurta also has five winning medals from the same years, but was not in the 18-man squad for the win over Liverpool in 2007, and was suspended for the 1994 win over Barcelona.

Seven Real Madrid players from their legendary side in the late 50s have five titles to their name, including Alfredo Di Stefano, who scored in all five final wins between 1956 and 1960.

Among those on four wins are Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Lionel Messi, as well as Clarence Seedorf, who is the only player to win with three different teams (Ajax, Real Madrid and AC Milan).

Bale, 28, had a big part to play in Real's 10th European Cup win in 2014 against Atletico Madrid in his debut season in Spain, scoring in extra-time to put Real 2-1 up on their way to a 4-1 victory in Lisbon.

He also contributed to the 2016 win, playing 120 minutes before a penalty shoot-out victory over Atletico again, having set up the first goal for Sergio Ramos in Milan.

But in 2017 in his hometown of Cardiff, Bale played just 13 minutes of Real's 4-1 win over Juventus, and his playing time may be restricted again on Saturday.

Zidane has a big decision to make as to whether Bale starts in Kiev, having scored five goals in his last four starts for Real.

"He is playing very well, he has scored many goals recently," Zidane said this week. "Not only that but he has been very consistent. He has not played so much, but the last three games he has played he has played well."

Bale, who has also won La Liga and the Copa del Rey during his time at Real, added: "I feel great, I am ready for the final. Last year we got our second Champions League in a row and now we want more.

"I think I am on fine form physically. I never imagined playing in so many finals. I have played in three and this could be a fourth win, it has blown any expectations I had out of the water."

Despite his relatively short stint as a manager, Zidane could go level at the top of the chart of managers with European Cup wins.

A third victory would put him alongside greats Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti, and Real would also be the first side to win the competition three times in a row since Bayern Munich in 1976.


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