FORMER Team GB Olympic football coach Stuart Pearce has accused Gareth Bale, the world’s new most expensive player, of exaggerating an injury in order to skip the London 2012 Games.
Pearce, who was sacked as England Under-21 manager last month after a disastrous European Championships, also singled out Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Manchester United’s Phil Jones for criticism.
Bale’s inclusion in Team GB had been so eagerly anticipated that kit makers Adidas included images of him wearing the shirt in promotional material, only for the former Tottenham attacker to withdraw just weeks before the tournament.
“We had a situation with Gareth Bale,” said Pearce. “I spoke to him seven months prior about going to the Games; I was going to put the squad out on the Friday morning. On Thursday he rings me and says his back’s not so good, he’s going to have to pull out of the squad.
“He plays his first game for Tottenham pre-season the same day as we play our first Olympic game. We’ve got the brightest talent in Britain at the time [and he] didn’t want to go to the Olympic Games. And he wasn’t alone, by the way.”
Pearce said his team’s failure to take a single point from three games at the Under-21 Euros was down to stars such as Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jones refusing to play.
“The odd one was injury, apathy played a big part of it – the Oxlade-Chamberlains of this world, the Phil Joneses, because they didn’t want to come,” he said. “Once they go through the golden ivory towers of the seniors they don’t want to come and play with the Under-21s.”