Delay over Real Madrid move was stressful, claims Gareth Bale
Gareth Bale has revealed the stress he felt as his protracted transfer from Real Madrid to Tottenham eventually neared completion.
The summer transfer window was dominated by talk of the nine-time European champions making a bid for the Welshman but the deal was not completed until the day before the window closed as Real got their man in a world-record 100million euro (£85.3million) deal.
There were many times that the move was seemingly on the verge of collapse as Spurs chairman Daniel Levy tried to get the best deal for his club and Bale admits it was a stressful time.
"It was a long time. It was very stressful to say the least," Bale told BT Sport.
"I knew their interest from the start and I was always confident the move would go through but obviously the chairman Daniel Levy had to do his business and do Tottenham well so I kind of understood that.
"But at the same time, thinking of myself, It was a hard time, it was stressful and I just had to be patient and try and focus."
Since completing his switch on Sunday night, Bale has spoken of his move to the Bernabeu as a dream and has now revealed how he used to follow the club as a child.
"When I was younger I had some close friends and we always loved European football and Real Madrid at that time were the dominant force and we always watched Real Madrid," the BT Sport Ambassador said.
"I remember family holidays, we used to go Spain, and we'd bring back replica shirts of Real Madrid and wear them out and always pretend to be the players when we played in the park.
"It just started from there and I followed them since.
"Obviously the football they play, the team they are is amazing and it's just great to be there."
While this week may have been difficult for the 24-year-old, he also had a tough time as a young player at Southampton as injuries threatened his progress.
And the forward is grateful to the staff at the south coast club for sticking by him when many young footballers could have fallen by the wayside.
"It was quite difficult," he said. "I had a lot of growing problems with my back which made my hamstrings tighter which means I couldn't run so quick and it kind of affected the way I played.
"So it was quite frustrating at that time, trying to do things you were able to do before but were then restricted to do.
"I think they believed that it was still there and it was a phase that I just needed to come through.
"There was a lot of debate but I think everybody at Southampton and especially Rod Ruddick, the Southampton scout who actually spotted me when I was nine, all believed that I would make it and we got through that phase and I actually showed what I was capable of."
Bale left Southampton for Tottenham and initially endured a difficult time at White Hart Lane before a switch from left-back further forward saw him flourish.
He is now the most expensive player in the history of football and, although he admits luck has played a role in his rise to the top, he is also proud of much of his own hard work.
"At that time I don't think anybody expected anything in the future to happen as big as it did," he added.
"I think it was obviously thanks to all them that they showed the faith in me and I think those little strokes of luck and the bounce of the ball, you need sometimes to get where you are and luckily that went in my favour.
"I always believed in my ability but I think in any sport you need that little bit of luck.
"That scout might just be there that day that you're playing in a certain game which obviously happened for me.
"So there was an element of luck but I think that a lot of it is down to your hard work and dedication and how much effort you put in on the training pitch and on game days.
"That's been there since I first started and that's still there now."