MADRID (AP) - Accustomed to seeing some of the world’s top players join their ranks, tens of thousands of Real Madrid fans turned out at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Monday to catch the first glimpse of Gareth Bale, the latest “galactico” to join the Spanish giants.
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder was introduced by president Florentino Perez amid enthusiastic chants from the supporters after earlier passing a medical test.
“It is a great dream for me to play for Real Madrid,” Bale said in Spanish before thanking the fans for a “great welcome.”
“I want to help to bring the team success,” Bale said before ending his speech with “Hala Madrid,” the same club chant that David Beckham used at his presentation 10 years ago.
A person familiar with the deal said on Sunday that the fee for the Wales international was a world-record $132 million, making the midfielder the world’s most expensive transfer. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because financial details are not being disclosed.
By pairing Bale alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, new Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will have one of the most formidable attacking combinations in football and one intended to compete with that of Spanish champion Barcelona, which features Lionel Messi and new signing Neymar.
Bale, whose move was the culmination of negotiations that spanned much of the summer, acknowledged his signing had involved a complex process that had made him feel uneasy at times.
“It’s been difficult, but I’m here now,” he said. “It’s been a very nervous situation, but it’s a dream come true.”
Bale said that the deal had been done correctly, with Real Madrid approaching Tottenham first, before talking to him.
He said he wasn’t told until late Sunday that an agreement had finally been reached _ shortly before it was announced to the rest of the world.
Perez said the player had shown “determination and solidity” throughout the negotiations, something he said had helped in completing the transfer process successfully.
“I thank Tottenham for giving us the opportunity to count on this player,” Perez said.
Bale acknowledged the transfer fee had been surprisingly large, but said that aspect of the deal was strictly between Tottenham and Madrid and had not included him at any stage.