Gareth Bale has suggested footballers are treated like ‘robots’ and lose control of their lives in pursuit of a career.
The Real Madrid forward has won four Champions League crowns and countless other honours during his career, and insisted it was worth sacrificing to achieve in the game.
But when he was asked whether he understood retired players saying they got their life back, Bale replied: ‘Yeah definitely because as a professional athlete – especially in a team environment – you don’t get to choose your schedule, maybe like a golf or a tennis player.
‘So we’re kind of just robots. We’re told where to be, when to be there, what time we have to eat, what time we have to go to the coach. It’s kind of like you lose your life in a way. You’re kind of just told what to do.
‘You don’t get to choose what you want to do, when you want to do it. So yeah, I can completely understand why he said that.
‘But on another point, I think a career in football’s so short, sometimes you just have to sacrifice it.
‘Some people think it’s worth it and some people think it’s not and yeah, everyone knows when it’s time to retire and obviously that was the right time for (friend Lewin Nyatanga) to do that and he’s happy.’
The 29-year-old also admitted most of the joy he felt playing football as a child had gone at the highest level.
Speaking in State of Play, a BT Sport film, he said: ‘When you’re a kid you have no thoughts in your mind, you can just enjoy with your friends, having a laugh.
‘When you come to the elite level there’s all sorts of pressures, there’s expectations, there’s people talking negatively all the time and yeah, it loses that childlike feeling.
‘I guess it’s natural for pretty much most sports to be honest.’
State of Play, the next film in the award-winning BT Sport Films series, will premiere at 10.30pm on Wednesday May 29th on BT Sport 2