CHANTILLY, France, June 13 – England manager Roy Hodgson has branded Gareth Bale “disrespectful” after the Wales star said his country showed more “passion and pride” than their neighbours and Euro 2016 rivals.
England and Wales face off in Lens on Thursday, with Bale’s team in the driving seat in Group B after they beat Slovakia 2-1 in their opening game and Hodgson’s men could only draw 1-1 against Russia.
Speaking before the Slovakia game, in which he netted a spectacular free-kick, Bale had said of England: “I think we’ve got a lot more passion and pride about us than them.”
But in comments published by British media on Monday, Hodgson retorted: “Receiving disrespectful comments is part and parcel of being a footballer and a football coach.
“I don’t ever comment on other people. I’ve been in the game sufficiently long to know every opponent has got an opinion.
“The other day it was (Russia goalkeeper Igor) Akinfeev saying we were the worst seeded team and now it’s Gareth Bale.
“They can have those opinions, but I don’t have any doubts personally about our patriotism or desire and that’s the important thing.
“If he believes that that’s the case, he’s welcome to that opinion. But we know who we are, we know what we are. We don’t have any doubts about ourselves in that respect.”
Defeat by Wales would leave England in a perilous position, but Hodgson has backed his players to bounce back from the blow of conceding a stoppage-time equaliser against Russia in Marseille.
“It is a tight dressing room, a passionate dressing room,” said the England manager, whose side are based in Chantilly outside Paris.
“I would recommend anybody who does have any doubts about players in that respect to watch the game and come to me afterwards and show me where they’ve seen that lack of passion and lack of patriotism because I certainly didn’t see it.
“We’ll get over it, no question of that. We’ll bounce back. My hope is and my dream is that we’ll play as well in the next two matches and go on to do well in the tournament.”