NEWPORT, WALES, UNITED KINGDOM (AUGUST 12, 2013) (ITN) - Welshman Gareth Bale has left Tottenham Hotspur for Real Madrid, both clubs confirmed on Sunday (September 1), one day before the transfer deadline.
Sources said the fee for what has been a lengthy negotiation period was a world record 100 million euros.
Bale will have to find his place within a star-studded Madrid line-up quickly because the world's most expensive player is sure to be compared constantly with his new team mate Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Neymar.
As if that were not enough, the name of David Beckham will also be thrown into the mix as the 24-year-old Welshman arrives 10 years after the former England captain and marketing machine left the Premier League for La Liga.
Bale lands at the Bernabeu with a hefty 100 million euro ($131.86 million) price tag and the need to impress one of the most demanding audiences in the world every time he steps out on to the pitch.
Ronaldo sets the standard and is seen to have justified his $125 million transfer fee from 2009, scoring 202 goals in 202 matches.
Despite a few run-ins with Madrid fans, no one has ever doubted Ronaldo's voracious appetite for goals and his commitment to win every single game.
The start of the transformation of Bale from a gangly teenager who did not play on the winning side in his first 24 Premier League matches for Tottenham Hotspur to the world's most expensive player can be pin-pointed to an exact place and time.
On October 20, 2010, Spurs were losing 4-0 at halftime to European champions Inter Milan in a Champions League group stage match at the San Siro. Then Bale hauled them back into contention with a truly remarkable second-half hat-trick.
The first two goals were almost identical, scored with searing, angled left-foot drives after powerful runs that left the Inter defence and especially Brazilian defenderMaicon trailing in his wake.
The third was a hard low shot from a more central position that also left Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar nowhere.
Although Spurs lost the game, Bale's stunning performance brought him to the attention of every major club in Europe.
More goals, more running and 100 million euros ($131.86 million) later, the richest of the lot, Real Madrid, has bought him.
Spurs recovered from that defeat to top their group and went on to reach the quarter-finals of their only Champions League campaign to date and the fact the north London club have, albeit narrowly, missed out on a return to the competition in the two seasons since is one of the reasons Bale has left them.
Regarded by many as the third best player in the world after Barcelona's Lionel Messi and his new Real Madrid team mate Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale, who was voted Footballer of the Year by journalists and Player of the Year by his peers last season, needs to be playing at the highest level.
He caught the eye of Arsenal's Arsene Wenger and Manchester United's Alex Ferguson but ended up signing for Spurs for an initial 5 million pounds ($7.73 million) in May 2007.
It took him 24 league games over the next two years to be on the winning side - the jinx ending when then-manager Harry Redknapp brought him on for the last five minutes of a game against Burnley in September 2009 with Spurs already 5-0 ahead.
Tottenham finished fourth at the end of that season and qualified for the Champions League, but the fact they have since failed to reach the elite competition since is at the heart of his departure from north London.
They missed out by one point last season and were denied a place the previous year, despite finishing fourth, when Chelsea lifted the European Cup.
Bale, whose partner gave birth to a baby girl last year, always gave the impression he was happy at Spurs and ready to lead their next assault on the Champions League in the coming campaign.
Clearly though, the amount offered by Real and the challenge for the Welshman to raise his game to even further heights in Spain, as well as a significant improvement in his earnings, proved irresistible.
Real's world record outlay has seen them sign a player with boundless stamina, tremendous pace, ball control and the ability to find the net from distance with some spectacular goals.
Whether or not they need him to join up with Luka Modric, whom they signed from Spurs a year ago, is another matter.
Former World Player of the Year Kaka is not exactly a spent force either.
Ancelotti could well experiment with Ronaldo as a central striker, leaving Bale to play in any number of forward roles.
It was also at Tottenham where the transformation from a left back to midfielder to forward took place.
Bale always looked dangerous on the left side of the middle four, but he went up a further gear when he began to play regularly in a more central role last season.
He scored some outstanding goals from that position, including a last-minute winner in a 3-2 victory at West Ham United in February and a fabulous equaliser after a typical driving run to secure a 1-1 draw at Norwich City a few weeks before that.
That, though, was just not enough to bring Champions League football back to White Hart Lane, because Arsenal's 1-0 win at Newcastle United on the same day meant they finished fourth, a point and a place ahead of Tottenham.
Bale's sale means Spurs now have a significant amount in their coffers and with plans in place for a new 56,000-seater stadium, the club remain optimistic about playing at the highest level again, even without their star name.
($1 = 0.7584 euros)
($1 = 0.6465 British pounds)
* Bale joined Southampton as a youngster and made his professional debut aged 16 years and 275 days against Millwall in the Championship (second tier) in 2006.
* He made his first international start later that year and scored his first international goal against Slovakia in a European championship qualifier.
* After making 45 appearances for Southampton and scoring five goals, Bale completed a move to Tottenham Hotspur for an initial fee of 5 million pounds ($7.63 million) in the close season of 2007.
* Although Bale showed glimpses of his talent in his first season at White Hart Lane, his progress was hampered by injury.
* He was used predominantly as a left back in his early career at Spurs but was considered defensively suspect and was dropped in favour of Benoit Assou-Ekottoin the 2008-2009 season.
* He was not on the winning side for his first 24 Premier League matches for the club and only broke his duck when brought off the bench in the 85th minute with his team leading 5-0 against Burnley in September 2009.
CHANGE OF LUCK
* Bale's fortunes changed in January 2010 when he replaced the injured Assou-Ekotto for an FA Cup tie against Peterborough United. He set up three goals in that match and ended the season having scored back-to-back winners against Chelsea and Arsenal as the club qualified for the Champions League.
* He was moved into a more advanced position by then manager Harry Redknappwhere his rampaging forward runs and electrifying pace and power came into their own.
* A stunning Champions League hat-trick against Inter Milan at the San Siro in October 2010 marked him out as one of Europe's top talents and that reputation was enhanced further after a memorable display in the return leg at White Hart Lane.
* He was named PFA Player of the Season for 2010-11 and in UEFA.com's Team of the Year. It was the first time a Tottenham player or a Welsh player had made the lineup.
* His good form continued in the following campaign when he notched nine goals in 36 Premier League appearances but it was another tactical change for the 2012-13 season that elevated his status further still.
* Current Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas moved him into a central attacking position and this brought about a goal glut with Bale netting 26 times in 44 matches.
* At the end of the season, Bale scooped the major accolades winning the PFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year titles as well as the Football Writers Association award.
Source: tottenhamhotspur.com ($1 = 0.7584 euros) ($1 = 0.6465 British pounds)