Real fans flock to welcome record signing Bale

By Iain Rogers

MADRID (Reuters) - Thousands of Real Madrid fans flocked to the Bernabeu to welcome Gareth Bale on Monday after the nine-times European champions sealed the purchase of the Wales winger from Tottenham Hotspur for what the London club said was a world record fee.

The summer's longest transfer saga finally ended on Sunday when Spurs announced they had sold Bale to Real for 100 million euros and the La Liga club confirmed he had agreed a six-year contract.

The 24-year-old, the latest "galactico" signing engineered by the world's richest club under president Florentino Perez, passed a medical at a clinic in Madrid on Monday morning before signing his contract and being presented to excited fans inside the giant arena.

Wearing a sharp black suit, white shirt and black tie, Bale listened to a translation as Perez introduced him on the VIP tribune and described him as an "exceptional footballer".

Real had unearthed a picture of Bale wearing a club shirt as a child and Perez said the Welshman had always dreamed of playing for the club.

"Bale's determination made it possible for him to be here today," said Perez, his speech regularly interrupted by cheers.

"The moment he dreamed of as a child has arrived. As of now, this is your stadium, this is your shield and these are your fans. This is your home."

Bale, who was accompanied by members of his family, then sprung a surprise by making a brief statement in Spanish. He told fans signing for the club was "a dream come true" and he hoped to help them win the "decima", or 10th European title.

He thanked them for their welcome and concluded by punching the air and shouting "Hala Madrid!", the club's traditional rallying cry, drawing another immense cheer.

He quickly changed into Real's all-white kit, including his new number 11 shirt, and took to the pitch, before throwing and kicking balls into the crowd.

MASSIVE REASON

At a later news conference, Bale gave a confident performance fielding questions from Spanish and British media and said he was well aware of how important winning the Champions League was for the club.

"I wanted to play Champions League football, it was a massive reason," he said, adding that one of his earliest memories of Real was the spectacular volley Zinedine Zidane scored in the 2002 final against Bayer Leverkusen.

"We want to win the 10th European Cup and I hope I can help make that dream come true for the club and the fans."

A construction magnate in his second stint at the helm of the club, Perez is hoping the addition of Bale will help Real finally end their run of failure in Europe since their last continental title in 2002.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti can deploy his new player in a formidable attacking trio with Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo and France striker Karim Benzema as Real also attempt to wrest the Spanish title back from arch rivals Barcelona.

Quizzed about which position he might occupy, Bale said he was happy to play wherever Ancelotti decided.

He said he was looking forward to playing alongside Ronaldo, previously the world's most expensive player after joining from Manchester United for around 94 million euros in 2009.

"He's the boss here I think," Bale joked when asked who would be taking the attacking free kicks.

"He's the main player, the best player in the world and I want to learn off him.

"Every player here is world class so I know I can't just walk straight into the first 11 and I'll have to work hard.

"I enjoy playing all the positions to be honest, I don't know if I have a preference anymore.

"Wherever the manager sees fit for me to play I'll be giving 100 percent and doing what he says."

PUNISHING RECESSION

Bale, who said he was learning Spanish, will join up with Wales later on Monday and could make his Real debut after the international break in their La Liga match at Villarreal on Saturday September 14.

The price Real paid for him has drawn criticism in Spain at a time when the nation is in the grip of a punishing recession and unemployment is hovering just below 30 percent.

Ordinary Spaniards are also being forced to swallow cuts in wages and benefits and the government is slashing spending on public services like health and education.

"The transfer is nothing to do with me," Bale said when asked about his price tag.

"I think that's between Real Madrid and Tottenham. Whether for a penny or whatever I wanted to come to the football club." (Editing by Justin Palmer)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of the Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusia… More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »