Dressed to the nines and wearing a pair of headphones translating what was being said around him into English, you could see the excitement on Gareth Bale's face as Florentino Perez introduced him to the Bernabeu on Monday.
"It's a dream for me to play for Real Madrid," the Welshman addressed his audience, and you got the feeling he meant it, as reported by The Telegraph.
The amount of time it took for the deal to conclude may have turned many off, but, with it now complete, it's time for what has actually happened to sink in.
Real Madrid, nine-time European Cup winners, have just broken the world's transfer record, again, to sign a 24-year-old from Wales for a staggering £85 million.
|Gareth Bale||Tottenham||Real Madrid||£85m|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester United||Real Madrid||£82.5m|
|Zinedine Zidane||Juventus||Real Madrid||£64.5m|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Inter Milan||Barcelona||£61m|
|Kaka||AC Milan||Real Madrid||£57m|
Bale's ascent to the top of that table wasn't as obvious as some of the other names adorning that list.
In 2009 The Daily Mail labeled him a "flop" ahead of a rumored £3 million move from Spurs to Birmingham City, while his first club, Southampton, surrendered their 15 percent sell-on clause for a £1.5 million payment when they hit financial problems, via Sky Sports.
He's continued to develop though, and his remarkable last season with Tottenham—PFA Player of the year, 26 goals, mostly screamers—propelled him firmly into Madrid's sights.
The Bernabeu is a place he claimed he's long since wanted to end up, and an old photo in a Madrid shirt, dug out by Bale or his representatives, cleverly leads us to believe that his words might not be a total lie:
Bale / his camp have come up with a photo of him as kid in old Madrid [Beko era] shirt pic.twitter.com/f49NTtFB2A— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) September 2, 2013
Back to the fee though... it is a lot of money.
Spain's economy is hardly thriving, and for Los Blancos to throw so much money at one player is potentially at risk of unsettling some fans.
The stats website Squawka put the fee in to context by working out how high £50 notes would stack up if Madrid paid the cash all in one sum—this was when the fee was thought to be closer to £93 million.
It revealed the stack would surpass the London Eye, although wouldn't quite be as tall as the Shard or the Eiffel Tower.
Of course it's not just the transfer fee, Bale will also earn a reported £300,000 a week, you can keep up with what he's earned so far here at WhatBaleEarns.co.uk.
The counter-argument is that the money paid for Bale is for more than just his output on the football pitch every Saturday or Sunday night—or whenever the LFP decide to schedule games for.
Marketing has become an increasingly important factor in elite-level football, and Gareth Bale plus Real Madrid equals a huge opportunity to cash in.
An article on marketingweek.co.uk has already looked into the ripples Bale and Madrid will now spread together:
Despite the fact current public awareness of Bale hovers at around 53 per cent, according to Repucom’s Celebrity DBI index, compared to 90 percent for Ronaldo, his attributes for appeal, aspiration, breakthrough, endorsement, influence and trend-setting outscore Ronaldo in the UK.
Even in Spain, where the gulf in public awareness between the two is even more apparent, the Welshman outscores the Portuguese in ‘appeal’, ‘breakthrough’ & ‘trust’ - the three key marketability factors according to Repucom.
Then there's the American market, where Bale has already been featured as the face of an NBC campaigh, and the Asian market too.
It also adds that Bale is no longer just a footballer, and this is evident in the campaigns Adidas are already running since his arrival in the Spanish capital.
Taking Bale's famous heart-shape celebration, they have implemented it around the Real Madrid badge and asked fans to get tweeting their thoughts on the transfer.
The Bale effect is already in full flow—Florentino Perez will be happy.
So it's all over. After a summer of "will he, wont he," Bale has at last put us all out of our misery and signed for Real Madrid, and it is only from now that we will be able to judge the value of the transfer.
The Welshman won't need to look far for an example that it doesn't always work out. As he joins Madrid, Kaka, a similar marquee signing in 2009, leaves the club a relative failure, having failed to live up to the reputation he joined from AC Milan with.
Good luck, Gareth.