Gareth Bale has fulfilled a lifelong dream by joining Spanish superclub Real Madrid for a world-record fee.
His former club Tottenham Hotspur and his new bosses at Real Madrid confirmed an agreement had been reached late on Sunday night.
There is a difference in opinion over just how much the final fee has cost though with Real claiming it to be less than the £80m they paid for Chrisitano Ronaldo in 2009 but ITV News understands that a final settlement of €100m (£85m) now makes Bale the world’s most expensive ever player.
– Gareth Bale, Real Madrid and Wales
I am not sure there is ever a good time to leave a club where I felt settled and was playing the best football of my career to date.
I know many players talk of their desire to join the club of their boyhood dreams, but I can honestly say, this is my dream come true.
I am well aware that I would not be at the level I am today were it not for firstly Southampton and then Spurs standing by me during some of the tougher times and affording me the environment and support they have.
Tottenham will always be in my heart and I’m sure that this season will be a successful one for them. I am now looking forward to the next exciting chapter in my life, playing football for Real Madrid.
Bale spent his formative years at the same Whitchurch High School in Cardiff as Wales and Lions captain Sam Warburton and Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Geraint Thomas.
His footballing education was spent away from Wales though as he progressed through the youth ranks at Southampton FC, eventually becoming their second youngest senior player ever at 16 years and 275 days.
His progression, in the same team as Arsenal striker Theo Walcott, caught the attention of several Premier League clubs and in May 2007 Bale signed a four year deal at Tottenham Hotspur for an initial £5m fee, which rose to £7m after performance related add-ons.
And it was at Spurs that his development spiralled as he went on to become the driving force behind the club’s rise into European football.
Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy released a statement following the news, claiming he had hoped to keep Bale in Britain.
– Daniel Levy, Tottenham Hotspur Chairman
Gareth was a player we had absolutely no intention of selling as we look to build for the future.
He is a player whose career we have fostered and developed and he was only a year into his new four year contract.
Such has been the attention from Real Madrid and so great is Gareth's desire to join them, that we have taken the view that the player will not be sufficiently committed to our campaign in the current season.
Bale is expected to be unveiled to Real Madrid fans at a special ceremony in the Santiago Bernabeu on Monday, before traveling to join up with the Wales squad ahead of their 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Macedonia and Serbia.