Gareth Bale has reflected on his busy last few days at Real Madrid, his long held admiration for the club and his gratitude to Southampton and Tottenham.
“It’s obviously been a whirlwind few days, but it was great being unveiled,” reflected Bale in an interview with BT Sport this week.
“It’s quite nice to come back and relax – and get back to normality, really. It’s been very stressful, to say the least.
“I knew they were interested from the start and I was always confident the move would go through but obviously the chairman, Daniel Levy, had to do his business and do Tottenham well, so I kind of understood that.
“But at the same time, thinking of myself, it was a hard time. It was stressful and I just had to be patient and try and focus and I believed they [Real Madrid] would get the deal through, and finally they did.”
Bale reflected on how he grew up a fan of Madrid.
“When I was younger I had some close friends who always loved European football and Real Madrid at that time were the dominant force.
“I remember family holidays when we used to go to Spain and we’d bring back replica shirts of Real Madrid and pretend to be the players when we played in the park.
“I’ve followed them ever since and the football they played, the team they had, was amazing and it’s just great to be there.”
The winger was asked of how it felt this week to finally complete his transfer, after negotiations that lasted several weeks.
“Just a sigh of relief, to be honest. Travelling over there, the excitement got more and more and I just felt honoured that I was going there.”
As a youngster, Bale struggled with injury and thanked his then-club Southampton for sticking by him.
“It was quite difficult. I had a lot of growing problems with my back which made my hamstrings tighter which means I couldn't run so quick and it kind of affected the way I played.
“So it was quite frustrating at that time, trying to do things you were able to do before but were then restricted to do.
“I think they believed that it was still there and it was a phase that I just needed to come through.
“There was a lot of debate but I think everybody at Southampton and especially Rod Ruddick, the Southampton scout who actually spotted me when I was nine, all believed that I would make it and we got through that phase and I actually showed what I was capable of.
“At that time I don't think anybody expected anything in the future to happen as big as it did.”
The Welshman conceded that his rise with the Saints and then at Tottenham also carried an element of luck.
“I think it was obviously thanks to all them that they showed the faith in me and I think those little strokes of luck and the bounce of the ball, you need sometimes to get where you are and luckily that went in my favour.
“I always believed in my ability but I think in any sport you need that little bit of luck. That scout might just be there that day that you're playing in a certain game which obviously happened for me.
“So there was an element of luck but I think that a lot of it is down to your hard work and dedication and how much effort you put in on the training pitch and on game days.
“That's been there since I first started and that's still there now.”