Gareth Bale has spoken of his ambitions of ending his career at Real Madrid – but admits he had to show character and determination after initially struggling to impress at the Bernabeu.
The Wales forward has put pen to paper on a new six-year deal at the club to finally put to bed any suggestions that a return to the Premier League – most likely with Manchester United – was on the cards.
Bale, who signed from Tottenham in 2013 for £85m – a world-record transfer fee at the time – will be 32 when his new contract expires and he reportedly stands to earn as much as £150m a year from the deal.
Bale faced the media on Monday and admitted he would be open to ending his career with the European champions.
He said: “I’m very happy here. When I first came here, I wanted to succeed and win trophies, and renewing my contract is another dream come true. Hopefully there are many more trophies to win here.
“I’ve signed again because I believe we can keep winning trophies and Champions Leagues. I feel very happy here. I’m improving my Spanish and my family is settled.
“I’d be happy to see out my contract here. In the future, I don’t know when I’m going to retire but I’m not looking past the next few years to be honest. I’ve been fully concentrated on Real since I got here. The main thing is to concentrate on my football and everything else is dealt with by my agents.”
Bale on early Real Madrid struggles
Bale is one of a limited pool of British players who have become a success at top-level club abroad and he was heavily criticised by the Spanish press during his first season.
He has gone on to score 72 goals in more than 100 appearances in all competitions but he admits it has been a “difficult” journey.
Bale said: “I came here to try something different – a new experience. History tells you that when British players play abroad it’s not always successful, but I wanted to improve my game.
“I had one season that wasn’t the best but this last one was my best, I think, and made me grow up as a person. You have bad moments in football wherever you are, but it’s about how you react to them.
“It would have been easy to pack up and leave and go elsewhere but it takes more character to stay here and fight. I’ve grown up believing that if things aren’t going right then you work hard to make them work.
“But I’ve enjoyed every moment, good or bad, and it’s been a great three years. Hopefully it will be another great six years. I will always fight for this club.”