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Candid Gareth Bale provides the answers

WELSH DRAGON: Gareth Bale

AT THE Euros I recently interviewed the most expensive footballer in the world - Gareth Bale. The Wales and Real Madrid star had just finished a press conference, sat down separately with the written press in a small room to field more questions and then came to me for my exclusive interview for ITV.

As he sat down I joked off camera, “How did the interviews go? Lots of similar questions to the press conference?”

He offered a slight smile but was clearly keen not to give anything away. This was the first time I had interviewed Bale, so he was working me out. Could he trust me?

The cameras soon started rolling and we were off! I knew I had 10 minutes to cover a range of areas - so jumped straight into it.

How proud was he of Wales achievements? What has been the secret to their success? How does he get those free kicks up and down over the wall? Are Wales a one man team?

I knew I had to keep him interested in the interview - so kept my tone conversational but fun. His response made for great TV.

He became more candid in his responses. The stand out line that caught the public’s attention was born out of this dynamic.

“What have Wales done to get to the Euro quarter finals that England haven’t?” I asked - slightly cheekily. “Won football matches and qualified!” Bale barked back. “Just that - nothing more?” I continued to nudge. “Yep!” he replied.


CONVERSATIONAL STYLE: Mann at work

Watching that moment back, Bale certainly put me in my place. Many watching may have felt he didn’t like me. Maybe he didn’t. But I had done my job. I had helped to make some great TV. Something people would be talking about.

A criticism I have faced in the past, is that my interviews seem too ‘in’… like two mates having a chat. It’s something I’ve taken on board but came to the conclusion that my relaxed conversational style often results in this dynamic. It’s what I do.

And essentially, if I get new information that’s interesting this way - then I’ve done my job. So this interview was very different to what I normally end up with.

But this is the beauty of interviewing. In the same way we all go about our daily conversations in life. The most memorable are those that are different… and make you think.

* Leon Mann is a broadcaster and journalist

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