The Spanish capital woke to read that Gareth Bale’s potentially world record transfer from Tottenham was completed, with Marca publishing photographic proof that ‘the Prince of Wales’ had flown to the city by private jet overnight to complete the deal.
The now famous Bernabeu stage — which had been put up, taken down, then reassembled again in recent days — was ready for the lunchtime presentation ceremony.
Minutes later Real Madrid president Florentino Perez formally welcomed a slightly embarrassed looking and besuited Bale up onto the podium, which featured a photo of his 10-year-old self wearing a ‘Teka’ era Madrid shirt.
20,000 plus fans were welcomed inside the sun-filled stadium to cheer, while the new signing’s family and agents, sundry Madrid executives and an extra-large press pack were all squashed into the Bernabeu’s posh seats.
Perez told all present that the €100 million deal was less a piece of business than the fulfilment of a long cherished dream.
“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.
“Many of football’s great players have been at this club. Today you have become one of their successors. This is your club, your jersey, your badge, your place. From today this is your house, and your family.”
Bale smiled bashfully, and then echoed that idea of fulfilling his dream, while also managing a few quite impressive words of Spanish — showing that his long summer spent waiting for the deal to be completed had not been completely wasted. Quickly changed into his new Bale 11 shirt, he then dutifully posed for the photographers, and booted dozens of footballs into all four stands for the gleeful fans to fight over.
The €100m man was also very careful, polite and respectful later during his almost hour-long press conference. There were words of thanks to Perez for making the deal happen, and for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy for finally letting him go. Madrid’s much hoped for ‘decima’ European Cup trophy was also mentioned — to murmurs of approval from the local reporters.
And there was praise for his new team-mates — especially the man some think Bale will eventually replace as Madrid’s most marketable superstar.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is for me the best player in the world,” Bale said. “He is a massive factor why I wanted to come here.
“The team is full of world class players, none better than him. It will be an honour to play with him, and hopefully learn from him. Hopefully we can win a lot of trophies together.”
If Bale looked absolutely delighted to be joining Madrid, and Perez was happy at finally getting Levy to sign off on the deal, the afternoon did have one bum note for Madrid.
Perez was seen shushing some Blancos fans, unhappy at reports that Mesut Ozil was on the point of leaving for Arsenal, who had started to chant “Ozil is not for sale”.
The Madrid chief did not want Bale’s moment ruined — but the deal was going through, with the German playmaker joining the Gunners last night for around €50m.
This was a dose of hard reality for the La Liga club’s supporters. While Madrid (€91m) and Spurs (€105m) continue to disagree over the fee paid, either way it is a lot.
A contract extension for Cristiano Ronaldo — whether the Portugal captain remains the world’s most expensive player or not — will likely also need to be paid for soon.
So Perez needed to balance the books. But few present wanted to dwell on the finances.
This was a successful end to the summer’s most drawn out transfer saga, and the fulfilment of a dream for a shy little boy from Wales.