Uefa Super Cup: Gareth Bale's top moments

By Tom GerkenBBC Wales Sport
Bale for Southampton
Gareth Bale made his Southampton debut aged just 16

The world's most expensive signing, Real Madrid's Gareth Bale, has arrived back in his home city of Cardiff for the Super Cup final on Tuesday 12 August.

The 25-year-old has come a long way since making his Southampton debut aged just 16, and is now producing headlines worldwide since he signed for the Spanish club for a record £85m in 2013.

BBC Sport Wales tracks his top career moments before he plays again in the city he left as a schoolboy.

Welsh wonderkid

Bale for Wales

Bale made his international debut on 27 May 2006 as a substitute in a 2-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago, the youngest player to feature for Wales at that time.

Aged just 16 years and 315 days, Bale set up the winning goal for striker Robert Earnshaw.

17-year-old free-kick master

Bale scores first senior goal for Southampton in 2006

Bale was a dead-ball specialist right from the start - his first senior and international goals both came from free-kicks.

In August 2006, he scored his first goal on only his third senior Southampton appearance, a curling left-footed free-kick.

Then in October 2006, Bale scored a wonderful free-kick against Slovakia to make him Wales' youngest international goalscorer, aged 17 years and 81 days.

Bale was named Football League Young Player of the Year in March 2007, finishing the season with seven goals from 48 games - including two from three internationals.

A big transfer to Tottenham

New Spurs Signings

At this point in his career, Bale was still featuring as a left-back.

After Southampton manager George Burley laughed off a reported offer of £8m from Manchester United for Bale, joking that it would only be enough to buy one of his feet, an offer was eventually accepted from Tottenham Hotspur and Bale moved to north London for a fee of up to £10m.

For that kind of money, Bale was under scrutiny at White Hart Lane and his Premier League career did not get off to a good start - Tottenham did not register a win in Bale's first 24 league appearances.

Finally, in the opening fixture of the 2009-10 season, Bale appeared for Spurs in a 5-0 victory over Burnley.

First hat-trick

Redknapp tips Bale for greatness

Despite ending his reputation as a Tottenham 'jinx', in 2010 there were rumours that Bale would be sold.

Yet Spurs manager Harry Redknapp dismissed the notion of selling the Welshman and predicted Bale could become one of the best left-sided players in the world, confirming his intention to play him on the wing more regularly rather than at left-back.

Within three weeks of Redknapp's interview, Bale scored a brilliant hat-trick in a 4-3 Champions League defeat by Inter Milan. That season, he would go on to be named the PFA Player's Player of the Year.

Award Winner

Bale with his awards

In 2013, Bale was named both Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, making him only the third player to win both awards in the same season.

Qualifying moments: Top 10 free-kicks

The following week he would also be named the Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year after a season that saw him score 31 goals, five for Wales.

His brilliant season included a stunning free-kick for the national side against Serbia, as well as a succession of goals from outside the box at club level that prompted interest from Real Madrid.

£85m man

Gareth Bale unveiled as Real Madrid player

Real Madrid broke the world transfer record to sign Gareth Bale on 1 September 2013 after a prolonged saga.

Madrid finally agreed an £85.3m deal with Tottenham to bring Bale to the Bernabeu, where he was presented to fans the next day, his nickname El Principe de Gales (The Prince of Wales),

The transfer also made the Welshman one of the best-paid players in the world as he agreed a salary of £300,000 per week.


Bale celebrates his Wales goal

Bale scored 23 goals in 43 appearances for Real Madrid in his first season, including a brace in a thrilling 7-3 victory over Sevilla.

A series of spectacular goals for the Spanish giants included a spectacular 30-yard strike against Elche and a 25-yard free-kick against Galatasaray.

But one of his best-remembered goals came on the international stage, as Bale took the ball from the halfway line to the penalty area and slotted home a curling shot to secure Wales' 3-0 win over Iceland at Cardiff City Stadium - where he will return for the Super Cup final.


Bale celebrates scoring in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona

Despite playing Champions League football with Tottenham and finishing League Cup runners-up in 2009, Bale had not won any trophies in his career before leaving for Madrid.

The former Tottenham player had also been criticised for failing to perform in important matches, and it was in the Copa del Rey final that Bale answered his critics against rivals Barcelona.

A long ball played along the left touchline found Bale, who sprinted from within his own half to squeeze the ball past Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto at his near-post.

This secured Bale's first club honour to go alongside his numerous individual awards, but it was not to be the last silverware of the season.

La Decima

Bale celebrates Champions League win

La Decima was the name Real Madrid fans gave to their hunt for a historic 10th Champions League title.

In May's final in Lisbon against city rivals Atletico Madrid, it took until extra time for Real to take the lead, and it was Bale who scored the goal.

Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved Angel di Maria's shot, but was unable to stop Bale from heading the rebound into the top corner of the net.

Madrid went on to win 4-1 in extra time, securing La Decima and cementing Bale's place in Real Madrid history.