Gareth Bale talks Euros excitement, personal stardom and inspiring the next generation

A global superstar, a winner of football's biggest trophies, and a Cardiff boy. Gareth Bale is Wales' talisman. Euro 2020 is his stage.

Ahead of Wales' first game of the tournament against Switzerland in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Wales captain has been talking to ITV Cymru Wales' sport reporter Beth Fisher.

Bale and Beth talked about everything from how Gareth feels joining up with his Wales teammates again, to how much he feels like he has changed since Wales' last major tournament in 2016.

Gareth Bale has spoken publicly about his love of playing for his country Credit: FAW

"I'm excited", Gareth told Beth. "That's why we want to play football, we want to test ourselves against the best teams in the world. We want to represent our country in the biggest tournaments, and we're able to do that again so we're looking forward to it".

Euro 2016 was a highpoint for the Wales team at a major tournament, as they got to the semi finals only to be beaten by Portugal.

Wales fans were even honoured with a 'outstanding contribution' award from UEFA following the tournament when they travelled to France to watch their team.

This summer will be different because of pandemic restrictions, with fans urged not to travel to Baku or Rome where Wales' first three games are being held.

Bale played a starring role for Wales in France 5 years ago Credit: PA

Gareth Bale says in some ways he's better prepared for this time around than the last, and rumours circulating of a possible retirement after the tournament won't be a distraction for him.

"[I've got] a lot more experience. I've achieved a lot more, I've done a lot more in football, I understand more. That can only benefit me", he said.

"Obviously I'm not 26 sprinting around the pitch anymore so there will probably be moments where I have to think about my game but I feel good, I feel confident, I feel fit".

Beth asked Gareth how special it is for him to be part of arguably the most successful generation of Wales football players of all time.

"It was something I missed growing up as a young kid was watching Wales at a major tournament", Gareth said.

"We would always sit down every other summer to watch a major tournament and you'd never know who to support.

"I guess now we can inspire young kids who can watch Wales at a major tournament so it's massive for Welsh football. Hopefully in 10, 20 years those players will have been inspired by us and that will make our national team stronger".

Wales v Switzerland kicks off at 2pm on Saturday 12th June and there will be extensive coverage by ITV Cymru Wales online and on TV.

There will also be a special Euros preview programme on ITV Cymru Wales on Friday 11th at 9:30pm featuring a chat with Joe Ledley reminiscing about Euro 2016 plus lots more.