The most expensive player in football history, Real Madrid's Gareth Bale has been in the limelight since he made his debut as a 16-year-old at Southampton.

Bale caught the eye almost instantly on the south-coast. Not just because of his age, but his free-kick prowess, and Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United soon came knocking during the 2006-07 season.

gareth bale

Gareth Bale poses during his official presentation as a new Real Madrid player at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

In January 2007, he rejected a mid-season switch to Spurs but eventually joined the north London club that summer. Despite a checkered first three years he has emerged into one of the most exciting attackers in world football and is a two-time PFA Player of the Year.

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  • 16-year-old debutant, 2006

  • Duped by Livestrong

  • First goal, first free-kick. Pride Park, 2006

  • First Wales goal (via a free-kick), October 2006

  • Getting a lift from Kenwyne Jones

  • Bend it like Bale

  • Tottenham, June 2007

  • Introduced at the Lane along with Kevin-Prince Boateng, Younès Kaboul and Darren Bent

  • Skinning Wes Brown on his Spurs debut

  • First Spurs goal...

  • First Spurs celebration. Fulham, September 2007

  • First Spurs free-kick vs Arsenal...

  • The first of five vs Arsenal, September 2007

  • A season-ending injury in December 2007

  • Bale missed out on a medal when Spurs beat Chelsea in the 2008 League Cup final

  • 2008: Another injury

  • Bale's one and only red card comes in Juande Ramos' final match in charge of Tottenham, October 2008

  • Wembley woe part 1: defeat to United on penalties in the 2009 League Cup final

  • The curse is broken! After two and 25 games, Bale plays in a Premier League victory for Spurs, coming on as an 85th minute substitute against Burnley. Tottenham were 5-0 up

  • Wembley woe part 2: defeat to Portsmouth in the 2010 FA Cup semi-final

  • Bale celebrates scoring the winning goal - and his first strike in over two-and-a-half-years - against Arsenal

  • Three days later, Bale runs Paulo Ferreira ragged...

  • Scores the winner in only Tottenham's second home Premier League win versus Chelsea...

  • And gets John Terry sent off

  • Bale celebrates Spurs' May 2010 win at Manchester City, which confirmed their qualification for the Champions League

  • August 2010: Bale celebrates a magnificent volley at Stoke as he begins to emerge as one of Europe's most exciting wingers

  • Consolation: Bale clutches the hat-trick ball after Spurs lose 4-3 to European champions Internazionale

  • Bale halves the deficit at the Emirates Stadium...

  • As Tottenham go on to win 3-2 and record their first victory at Arsenal in the Premier League era, November 2010

  • Bale is disconsolate as Real Madrid celebrate Cristiano Ronaldo's fourth in a chastening Champions League defeat

  • Even Bale doesn't look convinced by his 2011 PFA Player of the Year accolade

  • Wembley woe part 3: Bale is dumbfounded that Martin Atkinson awards Chelsea a goal even though Juan Mata's effort had not crossed the line. The Blues win the 2012 FA Cup semi-final 5-1

  • This will not be missed

  • Bale savours his second hat-trick during a 4-0 Boxing Day win at Villa

  • Mr FA Cup torments Bale after Spurs go out to Leeds

  • Break the heart

  • Bale hits a brilliant brace vs Newcastle as his performance level rises in 2013

  • Two free-kicks, two goals vs Lyon

  • Enjoying <em>that</em> stoppage-time winner at West Ham with André Villas-Boas

  • Look at the disturbing woman in the crowd doing the love heart

  • Beating the champions

  • 2012 Player of the year

  • Nick of time: a late winner vs Southampton

  • Another late winner on the final day vs Sunderland

  • Driving away (but get rid of the Livestrong wristband)

  • Gareth Bale Officially Unveiled At Real Madrid

    MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 02: Gareth Bale shows his new Real Madrid shirt as he stands alongside president Florentino Perez during his presentation as a new Real Madrid player at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

  • Gareth Bale Officially Unveiled At Real Madrid

    MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 02: Gareth Bale with his new Real madrid shirt controls the ball during his presentation as a new Real Madrid player during his presentation as a new Real Madrid player at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

  • Gareth Bale Officially Unveiled At Real Madrid

    MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 02: (L-R) Friend Ellis Randall, mother in law Suzanne McMurray, girlfriend Emma Rhus-Jones, daughter Alba Bale (in arms), father Frank Bale, Gareth Bale, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, mother Deborah Bale, sister Victoria Bale, niece Georgia Baldock (down), nephew Max Baldock (in arms), brother in law Richard Baldock pose during Gareth Bale's official unveiling at estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

  • Gareth Bale Officially Unveiled At Real Madrid

    MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 02: Gareth Bale poses for photographs in his new Real Madrid shirt during his official unveiling at estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

  • Gareth Bale Officially Unveiled At Real Madrid

    MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 02: Gareth Bale poses for photographs in his new Real Madrid shirt during his official unveiling at estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 2, 2013 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)


Much has changed about Bale's appearance since those days with the Saints, but the Livestrong wristband is still strapped on.