It will come as a huge relief to everyone when Gareth Bale finally leaves the Santiago Bernabéu this summer.
The Welshman has seemingly been on the cusp of departing Real Madrid for an eternity, with rumours of the 30-year-old’s exit first surfacing in 2017.
Los Blancos’ manager Zinedine Zidane all-but-confirmed that Bale has played his last game for Real on Monday, revealing that the winger is close to sealing a move away from the Spanish capital.
Whether you agree with Bale’s agent that Real Madrid’s treatment of his client has been a ‘disgrace’ or not, there can be no doubting that the Welshman has had an eventful time at the club.
Cannot remember all of Bale’s best moments in the all-white of Real? Never fear. This list will recount six of the most memorable; one for each of the years that the player has spent in Spain.
Cast your mind back to September 2013. Real Madrid had just broken the world transfer record to sign Tottenham Hotspur’s talisman: Gareth Bale.
Question marks were immediately raised over whether Los Blancos had overpaid for the Welshman; question that were immediately quelled during his first game for the club.
It took just 38 minutes for Bale to open his scoring account for Real, providing the finishing touch to
The goal allowed Bale to immediately settle at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Perfect Free Kick
With Bale settling in in Madrid, the squad welcomed a stubborn Galatasaray
side to the Bernabéu in a Champions League group stage fixture, during the 2013/2014 season.
Despite Real skipper Sergio Ramos being sent off early on for a cynical foul (I know that’s hard to believe) and the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo through injury, Bale inspired Los Blancos to an emphatic 4-1 victory, which ensured their place in the last 16 of the tournament.
The highlight of Bale’s performance was an expertly struck 35-yard free-kick, which caught the Lions’ goalkeeper off-guard as it flew into the top corner.
This game proved that Bale had the ability to be Real’s star man when Ronaldo was not present, also foreshadowing the Welshman’s propensity to come-up big for his club in important European games.
Wonder Goal in the Copa del Rey Final
With the scores level in the 2014 Copa del Rey final between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Bale produced a moment of superhuman athleticism, to secure Los Blancos the trophy.
Angel Dí Maria had put Real in front in the first half, before Marc Bartra headed Barcelona back on levels terms in a nervy game.
2014 Champions League Winner
In one of the great Champions League finals, Gareth Bale kick-started Los Blancos’ flurry of three extra-time goals and secured himself his first European trophy, at the expense of Real’s city rivals.
A first half Diego Godin header looked for much of the game to be enough to secure Atlético Madrid the trophy, before Sergio Ramos popped up with a header of his own to send the game to extra-time.
Bale put his mark on the final soon after, getting onto the end of a deflected Angel Dí Maria cross and showing fantastic composure to head the ball home.
Marcelo and Ronaldo added a gloss to the scoreline just before the final whistle, but it was Bale goal that was the most pivotal in securing Real the win.
The Perfect Volley
Bale has scored a lot of spectacular goals for Real Madrid, but there was something extra-special about his strike against Borussia Dortmund, during Los Blancos’ 2017/2018 Champions League campaign.
Receiving a hopeful cross-field ball from right-back Dani Carvajal, Bale re-adjusted his body quickly and shaped to shoot.
What came next was an expertly-controlled side foot volley, which flew past the Dortmund keeper, and into the top corner.
The goal showcased Bale’s world-class technique. Though he has often been pigeon-holed as a speed merchant, goals like this demonstrate that the Welshman will have plenty of attributes to deploy when his legendary pace finally deserts him.
The Best Champions League Final Goal Ever
What is there to say about this goal which hasn’t been said already? Without doubt the best goal ever scored in a Champions League final (editor’s note: a lot of doubt actually, because Zinedine Zidane’s goal is the best in Champions League final history), and a moment that Real fans will never forget, regardless of how Bale’s transfer saga ends.
With the scores level at 1-1, Liverpool were in the ascendancy and Zidane turned to Bale, substituting him for Isco in the 61st minute. The Welshman had been in fine form leading up to the final and the Real manager had received significant criticism for leaving him out of the starting lineup.
Bale would prove these critics right three minutes after his substitution, latching onto the end of a Marcelo cross with a spectacular bicycle kick that silenced the Liverpool fans in Kiev, and across the world.
He would double his tally just before full-time, although this time far less memorably. A pot shot from 30-plus yards was fumbled into the net by Loris Karius, as Bale secured another Champions League title for Real Madrid.