Bale delivers his magical moment for Madrid
17 April 2014, 15:21
Madrid - It took the best part of eight months and 84 minutes, but on Wednesday night Gareth Bale began to repay the reported world record fee Real Madrid paid to bring him from Tottenham Hotspur last September.
With the clock running down and Madrid tied at 1-1 with eternal rivals Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final, Bale set off on a stunning individual run and finish to hand Madrid the trophy for the 19th time.
The goal was the Welshman's 20th of the season, but until his crowning moment at the Mestalla there was a sense that he had failed to perform when it really mattered in the biggest games.
Afterwards, a beaming Bale appeared before the world's media happy to admit that winning his first trophy as a Madrid player had been the highlight of his career to date.
"It is a dream come true," he said.
"It feels amazing. It is my first trophy and hopefully the first of many."
However, the 24-year-old wasn't as amazed as most about the run and finish that tilted the game in Madrid's favour, having scored in similar fashion for Wales against Iceland back in March.
Bale set off down the left wing and despite Marc Bartra pushing him well off the side of the pitch, he galloped through on goal to slot low past Jose Manuel Pinto.
"I actually scored a similar goal for Wales not too long ago when I ran off the pitch. I was just trying to get round him and get on the ball.
"I haven't seen it back, but I was just focused on trying to get to the ball and score."
The pages of the Spanish sports pages on Thursday paid homage to Bale's strength and power as Madrid daily Marca recreated his 58 metre run at an average speed of 27 kilometres an hour on its front page.
Inside he was christened "Gareth Bolt" thanks to a burst of pace reminiscent of Jamaican sprinter and six-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt.
Madrid's other sports daily AS led with "Bale brings the bullet", whilst he was also roundly believed to have won his personal head-to-head with Barca's Brazilian star Neymar in the battle of last summer's big money buys.
Bale's teammates were also in awe as he sped away to mark a memorable night for Los Blancos with World Cup winner Xabi Alonso claiming he had "never seen anything like it."
And Real assistant boss Paul Clement hailed Bale's stamina to be able to make such a decisive burst at that stage fo the match.
"I think it just shows what an incredible athlete he is," said the Englishman.
"He has great ability technically but that just shows what immense power and strength he has -- so late in the game too.
"To be 84 minutes in and to produce that kind of run was quite incredible.
"He was a key player tonight and he has just shown what talent he has. He is a world class talent, no question about it."