Real Madrid fans and the Spanish media are rarely kind to Gareth Bale and he can expect more scorn after saying prefers playing for Wales.
Gareth Bale has further risked the wrath of Real Madrid's notoriously vociferous support by acknowledging he gets more excitement playing for Wales than Los Blancos.
Bale, 30, joined Madrid for a then world-record fee reported to be worth €100million in 2013 and enjoyed significant success at the club, winning every competition, including four Champions League titles.
In the most recent of those Champions League successes in 2017-18, Bale scored a vital brace as Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1, but despite his haul of trophies at the club, fans never truly took to the winger, who has also had issues with coach Zinedine Zidane.
He has received particular criticism for his inability to speak Spanish and a perceived commitment to golf ahead of Madrid, with the Spanish media often focusing on the latter.
And Bale can expect further scorn from Madrid fans and the media after freely admitting on international duty that he unequivocally prefers playing for his country, who he is away with despite not playing at club level since suffering an injury in Wales' last get together.
"I definitely have more excitement playing for Wales," Bale told reporters on Friday ahead of facing Azerbaijan.
"I've been with most of the older players since we were in the Under-17s. It's like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday. It's normal.
"With Wales, I'm speaking my own language and feel more comfortable. But it doesn't change what I do on the pitch.
"I always give 100 per cent on the pitch wherever I am, that's what I always strive to do."
Despite the vilification he is often forced to put up with in Spain, Bale insists he takes it all in good humour because he believes many of those criticising have no idea what they are talking about.
"I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me," Bale said.
"On one it said triple bogey, and I have never had a triple bogey! At least give me an albatross! It's funny.
"Some of the things I have seen… people don't understand and don't know what they're on about. So, I just find it quite funny."
Bale accepts that it might look curious from Madrid's perspective that he is fit to feature for Wales again after a month out of action domestically, but he insists it is a coincedence.
"I've done my rehab, four weeks training," he said. "Obviously there are two big games and I'm not sure if I'll play the two whole 90 minutes, but I'll do my best to play as much as I can. I fully understand the position I'm in.
"I've done as much as I can in terms of trying to get back as quickly as I can. We've done 11v11 to try and get some match fitness in me.
"If there had been a Real Madrid game this week, I would've been fit and training to play. Maybe to them it doesn't look great, but it's just a coincidence that the national team comes around this week.
"Everyone knows how passionate I am about Wales. We always look to not just qualify for one, we want to qualify for multiple tournaments.
"It's important not just for the here and now, but for the future of Welsh football. It will inspire kids again and hopefully make more kids play football and make our national team better for the future."