Tom King is worried he may have found his way onto the Madridistas’ hit list after standing next to Gareth Bale in Wales’ post-match celebrations after qualifying for the Euros this week.
Bale’s team-mates huddled around the Real Madrid star after the game and draped a Welsh flag that carried the controversial slogan ‘Wales. Golf. Madrid.’ in front of him.
That celebration created a storm back in the Spanish capital as tensions between the one-time world’s most expensive player and his club plummeted to an all-time low. Standing next to the four times Champions League winner was League Two goalkeeper, King.
“That moment will never leave me and I’ve got 1.5m pictures of me standing next to Gareth Bale with that flag to remind me,” said King.
“Two of them were in the Spanish newspaper, Marca. I’ve got some friends in Spain and had a few messages about that – I’m stood right next to him, so I’m probably now on the Madridistas’ death list as well.
“I got a bit of banter from my club-mates about positioning myself next to Bale to be in all the photos, but I didn’t do that. It was an incredible moment.”
King will get back to his footballing reality today when he finds himself back in goal for Newport County against Oldham at Rodney Parade. Next week he will be at non-league Maldon and Tiptree in the second round of the FA Cup.
But the 24-year-old, who was called up by Ryan Giggs to join forces with Wayne Hennessy, Danny Ward and Adam Davies, says he will carry what he learned into his club as they chase more cup cash and glory, as well as promotion.
“I know I was only there for the last two results, but the lads were so welcoming it felt like I had been a part of the whole qualifying campaign. Two great results, two clean sheets – you couldn’t have asked for anything more,” said King.
“The group chat on WhatsApp is still going now and they are all still celebrating. There is an unbelievable camaraderie in the squad.
“They are all so together – it is like a club spirit – and it is so genuine, 100%. They speak to each other all the time on and off the pitch.
“I’m in the group chat and I’ve got a lot of unsaved numbers at the moment. It will stay that way until I can cement my place in the squad.
“I don’t want to be accidentally pocket-calling Gareth Bale at 3.00am in the morning! I don’t think that would go down too well.
“Having seen how hard they work it is no surprise to me that they have qualified for two European Championships. The only shock is that they didn’t make it to the World Cup. The talent they have in that team is unbelievable.
“These boys are earning vast amounts of money, which is something I can only dream about and try to aspire to, but they speak to you like human beings – not like I’m the coffee boy. It wasn’t a case of you don’t deserve to be with us because you play for Newport County.
“Every single day for them is full of competition, full of passion and full of wanting to win everything they do – a passing drill, a 5-a-side. That’s probably the biggest thing I took from my week with Wales.
“Sometimes I can be guilty of thinking that if my team is losing in a 5-a-side it doesn’t really matter. Every day has to be bang on. That’s how these players have achieved at a high level. You can see that shining out of them and I hope my team-mates at Newport can see that in me now.”