Days after becoming the most expensive player in history, Gareth Bale reflected on the difficulties that could have threatened his rise to the top of world football.
Bale, who joined Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur for £86m on Sunday, described his injury problems as a teenager at Southampton and then the tension of waiting for his move to Real earlier this summer. Bale, clearly, is taking nothing for granted.
"It was quite difficult," Bale told Jake Humphrey of BT Sport, looking back at his time at Southampton. "I had a lot of growing problems with my back, which made my hamstrings tight, which meant I couldn't run so quick and it affected the way I played. It was frustrating at that time, trying to do things that you were able to do before but then were restricted."
Bale sounded grateful that Southampton had kept their faith in him despite these problems. "They believed it was still there and it was a phase I needed to come through. There was a lot of debate, but everyone at Southampton and especially Rod Ruddick, the Southampton scout who spotted me, they all believed I would make it.
"I always believed in my ability but in any sport you need that little bit of luck; that scout might be there that day when you're playing in a certain game, which obviously happened for me."
Bale spoke of the frustration of waiting for his transfer to go through, as the Tottenham chairman, Daniel Levy, dragged out the negotiations with Real Madrid. The transfer was only officially announced on the evening of Sunday 1 September, the penultimate day of the transfer window.
"It was a long time and it was very stressful, to say the least," Bale said about the protracted summer haggling. "I knew their interest from the start but I was always confident it would go through. Daniel Levy had to do his business and do Tottenham well and I understood that but at the same time it was a hard time and stressful and I had to be patient."
So when the deal was finally done, Bale was delighted. "A sigh of relief, to be honest. Travelling over there the excitement got more and more; I felt honoured that I was going there. It's obviously been a whirlwind few days but it's great being unveiled. It's a day I will never forget."
A full interview will be shown on BT Sport Live at 10pm on FridayReuse content