Gareth Bale has said he's "deeply humbled" to be awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The recognition has divided opinions among Welsh football fans on Twitter where some had even called for him to refuse the honour, which recipients are notified of before the list is made public.

Bale, who was in Poland with Wales yesterday, hadn't commented on the honour before issuing a three-tweet thread on his Twitter account mid morning today.

In it the Wales captain said it was special for him, and his family, to be included in the list during the Queen's Platinum Jubilee year.

He wrote: "Receiving an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours list is a very proud moment for my family and I. To be given this news as we prepare to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee makes it feel even more special.

"I joined an academy aged 9, so football is a defining part of my identity.

"I recognise the privilege of being able to do what I love, & for all the incredible moments, experiences, achievements & memories football has given me, I hope I’ve been able to give just as much back.

"Football is my whole life and I am deeply humbled to be recognised by the Queen."

The list, which also marks the Platinum Jubilee, was released last night shortly after Wales learned they will face Ukraine in Sunday’s crucial play-off final to determine which team will play at November’s World Cup in Qatar. 

 

Bale had been in Poland with the Welsh squad, and he and other big name players weren’t included in the matchday squad, for the Nations League fixture with Sunday’s game taking priority. 

But the announcement that Bale had been awarded the MBE for services to football and charity wasn’t met with universal approval on Twitter. 

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Responses ranged from amusing to outraged, with many seemingly unable to accept that the footballer doesn’t share the exact same outlook on either nationhood or the royalty as them. 

Bale, who only instructs tweets be sent from his official Twitter account sporadically, hadn’t tweeted about the honour yesterday – having hours earlier posted a statement confirming his departure from Spain’s royal club, Real Madrid

But the Football Association of Wales had posted a photograph of the national captain to its @FAWales account with the simple caption 'Llongyfarchiadau' and included the star’s Twitter handle and a link to its website with a clapping hands emoji.

READ MORE: Wales captain and footballing record-holder Gareth Bale awarded MBE

Of the responses there were a small number congratulating the captain but it seemed the majority were disappointed. 

Perhaps one of the main reasons fans had sought to convince themselves that Bale would not have wished to accept an honour was that he hadn’t joined the Team GB football side that competed at the London 2012 Olympics. 

 

While other young Welsh stars, including Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen, with experienced players Ryan Giggs and Craig Bellamy featured for the side, Bale had pulled out. 

The FAW hadn't sought to stand in the way of players representing the team but had warned it feared for the implications on the future stauts of the 'home nations' as independent football associations with a right to field international teams.

The official reason given for Bale's absence was that he had a bad back, and was claimed he was due to be named in the squad. But instead Bale played, and scored, for his then club side Tottenham Hotspur during their pre-season US tour even before the Olympics had kicked off. 

That had led to the famous chant, which was sung as recently as March’s play-off victory over Austria in which a Bale brace set up this weekend’s semi-final, of “Viva Gareth Bale, said he had a bad back, f*** the Union Jack”. 

Bale has never made any public comment to encourage, or discourage, the supporters’ chant or any assumptions about his, implied, wider feelings towards Wales and the union. 

But plenty greeted last night’s news by mourning the loss of the chant. 

One fan shared an image from the Simpsons cartoon, of a disappointed workman, with the caption “There’ll be no Viva Gareth Bale then. I’ll tell the lads” while others implored their hero to either turn the honour down or say he has a bad back. 

Some questioned whether he really did have a bad back that summer ten years ago.

One suggested he should show similar "enthusiasm" to the honours ceremony as he had while being left out of the Madrid team.

Other tweets from those obviously angered suggested either Bale and or the FAW had disappointed them and some even claimed they want Wales to lose on Sunday. 

In recent years the FAW has been hailed as a symbol of a distinct Welsh identity, and like all of its counterparts across the world, stands on its own feet as an independent body giving it an international status and reach beyond most, and possibly all other, Welsh institutions. 

Supporters groups, such as Football Fans for Independence, have rallied round the team and the status of an ‘independent football nation’ and the FAW’s embrace of the Welsh language and distinctive identity has been contrasted with the Welsh Rugby Union. 

Some supporters have seen the WRU and its high profile connections with the Royal family and the military as outdated, and tied to the British establishment, in contrast to the FAW that has showcased distinctly Welsh, and more alternative, figures at games and through its social media. 

On Sunday the former Plaid Cymru president, and folk singer born of the 1960s language revolution, Dafydd Iwan will again perform Yma O Hyd before the game with Ukraine. Recreating the charged atmosphere from March’s semi-final when he sang his famous song about the endurance of the Welsh language and nation. 

But the FAW isn’t without its own Royal connections. The Queen is still the association’s patron and Bale is far from the only player, or official, to have accepted an honour from the crown. 

Chris Coleman, who led Wales to a first major finals in 58 years when he took Wales to France and the semi-finals of Euro 2016, was awarded an OBE in that December’s new year’s honours. 

Ryan Giggs, who is still officially the national team manager, also has a gong as does Ian Rush who Bale surpassed as the nation’s record goal scorer. 

READ MORE: 'It’s long past time for the entire honours system to be overhauled'

Former goalkeeper Neville Southall, who has declared potential support for Welsh independence and supported left wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, also holds an MBE, the same honour Bale has accepted. 

Wales women’s star Jess Fishlock is another with an MBE among an almost exhaustive list of Welsh football stars to have been honoured with a palace gong. 

Whatever the complaints about the honour most Welsh fans will be more concerned with on field glory – and making sure their vocal support, rather than any criticism, is heard – on Sunday. 

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