Gareth Bale welcomed to Real Madrid
ESPN FC: Is he worth it?
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez reminded Gareth Bale of the challenges he will face as the club’s new world-record signing was presented at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on Monday.
The event took place on the now infamous stage -- which had been constructed, dismantled, then put back up again over the last week as the last details of the transfer were finalised -- with an estimated 30,000 happy fans allowed in to the stadium for free to watch.
Standing in front of a photo of a ten-year-old Bale wearing an old Madrid jersey, the Blancos chief said Bale was following in the footsteps of many of world football’s greatest players.
"This is the club with the greatest demands in the world,” Perez said “Our fans will demand the most from you. But we will be at your side, as will our players. At Real Madrid the challenges are permanent, even after victories. Many of football's great players have been at this club. Today you are becoming one of their successors."
Perez said the deal was the fulfilment of a dream for the club’s newest ‘Galactico’.
"Years ago there was a boy in Wales who wore the jersey of Real Madrid,” he said. “Gareth, this moment you dreamed of years ago, has now become a reality. You come to a club that demands more than any other in the world, but it will also be by your side. This is your club, your jersey, your badge, your place. From today this is your house, and your family."
Bale echoed these sentiments himself when he took to the podium, looking quite sheepish and a little emotional -- speaking first in English and then impressively in Spanish.
"I just want to say it is a dream come true to be here,” he said. “I hope I can help the team to bring success to the club, and hopefully this year we can win the tenth European title. Hala Madrid!"
Perez had alluded to the long drawn-out talks with Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, which took all summer to conclude.
“These have been intense and prolonged negotiations,” he said. “But in the end we achieved it, Gareth Bale will form part of our team. We always look to add the best players in the world to our squad, but that is one of the strategies which converted Madrid, according to FIFA, as the best club of the 20th century."
Bale then walked down to the Bernabeu pitch to show off his skills in front of the photographers, before acknowledging his new club's fans by kicking a large number of white footballs into all four sides of the ground.
The only slight sour note for Madrid and Perez were some chants from fans inside the ground against the idea of selling Mesut Ozil to Arsenal.
“Don't sell Ozil,” could be heard from Los Blancos supporters, who also sang songs in support of Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas.