As Gareth Bale moves from Tottenham to Real Madrid, BBC Sport looks at the life of the Welsh schoolboy who grew from a Championship left-back into one of the most fearsome attacking threats in Europe.
Gareth Frank Bale, born on 16 July 1989, attends Eglwys Newydd Primary School at Whitchurch and comes to the attention of Southampton at age nine, while playing in a six-a-side tournament with first club Cardiff Civil Service.
As a young adolescent there are doubts he will make the grade because of his small stature, but a growth spurt aged 14 changes that. Bale's PE teacher devises special rules which prevented him using his left foot and taking more than one touch.
On 17 April 2006, at the age of 16 years and 275 days, Bale becomes the second-youngest player ever to play for Southampton. Who holds the record as the youngest? Arsenal and England winger Theo Walcott, who was 132 days younger.
Bale makes his international debut on 27 May 2006. He first appears as a substitute in a 2–1 win over Trinidad and Tobago, making him the youngest player ever to feature for Wales. Bale, aged just 16 years and 315 days, sets up the winning goal for striker Robert Earnshaw.
On 25 May 2007, Bale signs a four-year deal with Tottenham, who pay an initial £5 million. He is later photographed with fellow new signings Younes Kaboul and Darren Bent. "I really want to play in the Premiership," Bale says at the time. "That's very important to me and this is a fantastic opportunity."
In December 2007, Bale sustains an injury against Birmingham City resulting from a Fabrice Muamba tackle. It is later revealed to be ligament damage to his right ankle - his season is ended, and thus begins a series of injury setbacks for the young left-back.
It takes time for Bale to secure a regular starting spot at Spurs. But after displacing Benoit Assou-Ekotto from the starting XI in the 2009-10 season, he improves rapidly and strikes the decisive goal in a 2-1 north London derby win over Arsenal in April.
Bale's star is on the rise when, on 20 October 2010, he scores his first senior hat-trick - and it comes against European champions Inter Milan at the San Siro in the Champions League. Tottenham lose the match 4–3, but Bale shoots to continent-wide prominence.
In March 2011, Bale signs a new contract to remain at Tottenham until 2015. Later that year, the 21-year-old, having scored 11 times for his side over the season, is named player of the year by the Professional Footballers' Association.
Bale's Tottenham career is not without controversy, though, as he finds himself accused of diving to win penalties and free-kicks. "People keep saying I'm diving," he admitted. "But if there's contact, it's not diving. Referees need to look more closely. If people kick me, I'll go down."
Controversy aside, the 2012–13 season is a phenomenal one for the Wales international, who now plays in an advanced role for Tottenham. A tally of 31 goals during the campaign - including five for Wales - make Bale one of the most sought-after players in Europe. He is named Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year and Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year.
In the close season Bale, now 24, is repeatedly linked with a move to Spanish side Real Madrid. On 22 August, it is revealed that Tottenham and Real are in "advanced talks" over a transfer.
After a prolonged saga, Gareth Bale finally left Tottenham on Sunday 1 September to join Real Madrid in a world record transfer deal worth £85m, Bale, in a statement on Spurs official website, said "I have had six very happy years at Tottenham but it's the right time to say goodbye."