Gareth Bale’s nine-year association with Real Madrid will come to an end this year, as confirmed by the Welsh forward in a heartfelt letter to the Spanish club. The Los Blancos signed him at a record fee of 100 million euros from Tottenham, and since then, Gareth Bale has scored 106 goals in 258 appearances. 

“I arrived here nine years ago as a young man who wanted to realise my dream of playing for Real Madrid. To wear the pristine white kit, to wear the crest on my chest, to play at the Santiago Bernabeu, to win titles and to be part of what it’s so famous for, to win the Champions League,” wrote Bale.

Bale once formed a one-third of the fearsome trio, along with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, famously known as BBC. His role, however, was eventually diminished in the latter half of his career, and was at loggerheads with both Zinedine Zidane and Carlo Ancelotti. This year, he made only four appearances under Ancelotti.

Marca, the leading sports publisher from Spain, once called him “Welsh parasite,” while many sections of the media mocked him for not knowing Spanish despite spending considerable time in the country.

Bale’s popularity dwindled among fans as well, and he had none but himself to blame. In one of the international games, Bale was seen standing with a notorious poster that read: Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order.” 

“He’ll always be in the memories of Real Madrid fans. He has written some great chapters, we have to recognise that,” said Ancelotti. It is unclear where Bale will be headed to for his next assignment, but as per some reports, he would love to return to Premier League

While it’s true that Bale never fulfilled the promises he has shown in his early years, his stint at Madrid nothing short of a massive hit. It’s hard to imagine Real Madrid’s legacy, especially in the Champions League, without mentioning Bale. He will sign off with 19 major trophies at the club, including five Champions League and three La Liga.

We take a look at five of the most iconic moments of Bale’s career at Real Madrid.

5. His First Hat-trick For Real Madrid

In the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was ruled out due to an injury, Gareth Bale took it all upon himself to guide Real Madrid to an emphatic 4-0 win over Real Valladolid. He scored his first-ever hat-trick for his new club, and provided an assist to Karim Benzema. The first goal was a headed effort from the close range, while for the second, he pounced on a loose ball around the six-yard box. Tapping in to a well-struck cross from Marcelo then completed his hat-trick.

4. Gareth Bale Scores Four Goals Against Rayo Vallecano

In December 2015, Real Madrid overturned a one-goal deficit to beat nine-man Rayo Vallecano by 10-2. It was an erratic evening for Vallecano who not only blew away a 2-1 lead, but also became the first La Liga side in five decades to concede 10 goals. Gareth Bale scored four goals in the game, including an equaliser and a winner. Bale received a standing ovation on his way off.

3. Gareth Bale Combines With Benzema And Ronaldo To Thrash Schalke

The much-vaunted troika of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema scored two goals each in Real Madrid’s 6-1 away win versus Schalke. For his first goal, Bale took the ball on the right flank, dribbled past two defenders, and slotted the ball to the left of the goalkeeper. 

2. His Screaming Sprint Again Barcelona

In the 2013/2014 Copa del Rey final, Gareth Bale produced one of the most iconic solo efforts to sink Barcelona in the dying minutes of the game. He received the ball on the extreme left of the pitch, knocked it forward, and set off for a dashing sprint, overtaking Marc Bartra, who pushed the striker off the field, but still couldn’t catch him. Bale then struck it between the goalkeeper’s legs to complete the turnaround.

1. That Iconic Bicycle Kick In The Champions League Final

The 2018 Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid will always be remembered for that iconic bicycle kick from Gareth Bale. With Madrid unable to penetrate the defensive lines, Zinedine Zidane brought Bale onto the pitch, and the Welshman responded with a brace to seal another Champions League trophy.