Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale has revealed he had to take a 'lot of painkillers' to be able to play last season and admits he should not have been so hasty in trying to come back from injury.
Bale has been plagued by fitness problems during his four years in Spain and underwent an ankle operation last November which sidelined him for three months.
Then, 10 games into his return to action, he suffered a calf tear during a match against Barcelona in April that kept him out for another six weeks,
The Wales international declared himself fit in the week ahead of the Champions League final in his home town of Cardiff, where he appeared for the final 13 minutes of Real's 4-1 win over Juventus.
That was a memorable end to what was otherwise a frustrating season for Bale, where the former Tottenham man concedes playing through the pain barrier was a mistake.
Asked why he did not rest more after his operation, Bale told Spanish newspaper El Pais: "On one hand it's easy now to say that I should have rested more. But when you've been injured for three months and you see your team-mates playing, you really want to return and that's what I did."
Bale has helped Real win 10 trophies since joining the club in a then world-record £85million move from Tottenham in 2013, including three Champions League crowns, but he has also found himself facing criticism and doubts over some of his performances and fitness.
The 28-year-old, who has regularly been linked with a move back to the Premier League with Manchester United, admits he takes all that in his stride.