Gareth Bale says he “grew up” during his time with Real Madrid and has “no regrets” having departed the Spanish club to return to Tottenham.
Bale joined Spurs on a season-long loan earlier this month seven years after having departed north London for a then world-record transfer fee.
Despite having played a key role in Real winning four Champions League titles, Bale fell out of favour with manager Zinedine Zidane and made just 20 appearances last season as he was frozen out by the Frenchman.
The 31-year-old also endured a strained relationship with the Spanish media, who were highly critical of him, particularly towards the end of his time in Spain.
“No I don’t have any regrets, no,” Bale told Sky Sports. “I just try and play football, that’s all I can do and everything else that’s said externally is out of my control.
“As I said, I have no regrets of what I’ve done, whatever anyone else has said, that’s up to them. I know my opinion of myself and my family know exactly what I am, so that’s all I’m worried about.
“Obviously going into a different culture, a different country, I’ve had to grow up as a person, never mind a footballer.
“You just learn how to deal with the situations that you’re in. Obviously I’ve been in immense pressure situations. I’ve had people on the pitch whistling in the stadium to me.
“So yeah I’ve just learned how to deal with those type of things, to not take it to seriously, take it too much to heart, and yeah just get on with it. It’s football – something that you love doing and you just need to give your best and sometimes that’s all you can do.”
Tottenham finished sixth in the Premier League last season, and with Bale’s arrival, the club will be aiming for a return to the top four and Champions League qualification.
After a surprise defeat at home to Everton in their season opener, Spurs overcame a lacklustre first-half performance to thrash Southampton 5-2 on Sunday, giving them some much-needed momentum to take into this weekend’s match against Newcastle.
“Of course when you come into any club you want to do well, you want to help the team as much as you can,” Bale said.
“We have a great team here now with a great squad. They’ve been doing great. Obviously in the time that I’ve gone away they’ve gone on and on and obviously reached the Champions League final, the club’s got a new stadium, the club itself is better, they’re doing better in the Premier League every year.
“So I just want to add to that. I want to try and bring a bit more to the team and try and progress even more and keep pushing in the right direction.”