Gareth Bale: the journey so far

Blog by: Into The Top Corner

Gareth Bale arrives to Madrid to sign as a new Real Madrid player at Barajas Airport on September 2, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Getty Images)

Gareth Bale arrives in Spain to sign for Real Madrid on September 2, 2013. (Getty Images)

Gareth Bale’s record-breaking £85 million switch to Spanish giants Real Madrid was finally confirmed last night. The question however remains: has Bale really proved himself enough to be worth breaking the record for? Here we have a look at his journey, from to Cardiff to Madrid.

The man from Wales grew up in the Welsh capital, Cardiff. His uncle, Chris Pike also played as a professional, turning out for Cardiff with over 100 appearances in the 80′s and 90′s.

Bale’s P.E Teacher would also set certain stipulations for the star player while playing football. He couldn’t use his left foot and often would be forced to play with only the one touch. He was spotted by Southampton scouts while playing in a six-aside tournament as a nine-year old.

Bale first came onto the scene as a promising youngster in the Football League in April 2006, appearing as Southampton’s second youngest ever player (after Theo Walcott, who was only 132 days older).

He debuted in a victory over Millwall come the end of the 2005/06 season. Bale went on to score his first ever professional goal in August, four months after making his first-team debut with a fine free-kick away to Derby County.

After appearing 40 times for Southampton and scoring five goals, Bale attracted a lot of interest from top Premier League sides including Manchester United. However, after the 06/07 season, the Welshman signed a four-year deal with north London side Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs initially paid £5 million, which would rise to £10 million depending on appearances and success.

Bale made his competitive debut for the White Hart Lane club in late August 2007 against United. He had a very good goal-scoring start for a full-back, managing three goals in four games. Injuries kept him out for the majority of the season, however.

The following season, Bale began to stall and slip-up. Alex McLeish was looking to bring the youngster to relegation-threatened Birmingham City. However, such things never materialised. But Bale lost his spot in the team to eccentric Benoit Assou-Ekotto.

In 2009/10, Bale returned from injury to participate in the 5-0 victory over Burnley. Then, Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp gave Bale a shot in the side when the Cameroon international was out with injury. Bale impressed and grabbed winners in massive games, notably against Chelsea and Arsenal. Spurs managed to finish in a Champions League position and Bale was offered a new four-year deal.

The 2010/11 season was a massive one for Bale. He was given the chance to shine on the European stage, in the elite competition. He assisted all four goals in the demolition of Swiss side BSC Young Boys at White Hart Lane in the Champions League playoff

With Assou-Ekotto returning, Bale was pushed into left midfield. The match that will always be remembered will be the 4-3 defeat to Inter Milan at the San Siro, Italy. Spurs were 4-0 down, but Bale made things a little sweeter by bagging an inspirational hat-trick, tearing  Brazilian right back Maicon to shreds.

The 2011/12 season saw Bale score 12 goals in 42 games. This season also saw the world of football lose Gary Speed. After Bale scored against Bolton, Bale celebrated by holding up his boot which had stitched “R.I.P Gary Speed”.  Bale signed yet another four year deal, keeping him at the club until 2016.

Bale had the season off his life last year, scoring 21 league goals in 33 games. Bale had also converted to the #11 shirt as he is “no longer a defender” in his own words.

Bale picked up the “PFA Young player of the year” and “PFA Player of the Year” awards. He also joined Cristiano Ronaldo as the only two players to also pick up the “Football Writers Association Player of the Year”. Spurs failed to finish in the top four by a single point to Arsenal, and were knocked out of the Europa League in the quarterfinals.

The next chapter is being written and Bale will be playing in Spain, for giants Real Madrid, where he’ll be expected to contribute to Champions League victories, wins over Barcelona, and the La Liga. Can he emulate the success of his ‘idol’ Cristiano Ronaldo? We will soon see.

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