After the summer's most drawn-out transfer saga, it's finally official: Gareth Bale is a Real Madrid player.
Madrid announced Sunday that Bale had joined on a six-year contract, and a person familiar with the deal said the fee was a world-record 100 million euros ($132 million). The person spoke on condition of anonymity because financial details are not being disclosed.
"I am not sure there is ever a good time to leave a club where I felt settled and was playing the best football of my career to date," Bale said in a statement published on the Tottenham website. "I know many players talk of their desire to join the club of their boyhood dreams, but I can honestly say, this is my dream come true."
Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said earlier in the week that Bale's move was set to be "the biggest transfer in world football," and the fee eclipses the ?93 million Madrid paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009.
The move for Bale, who had around three years remaining on his Tottenham contract, caps a rapid rise from White Hart Lane misfit to one of European football's most exciting players.
"I am well aware that I would not be at the level I am today were it not for firstly Southampton and then Spurs standing by me during some of the tougher times and affording me the environment and support they have," Bale said. "Tottenham will always be in my heart and I'm sure that this season will be a successful one for them. I am now looking forward to the next exciting chapter in my life, playing football for Real Madrid."
The 24-year-old Bale has been signed by the nine-time European champions despite not winning a single title in his playing career.
What the Wales star has is a collection of personal honors - and long highlight reel of spectacular goals.
In April he won the top two awards in English football after being voted player of the year and the young player of the year by his fellow professionals in English football.
The last player to achieve the Professional Footballers' Association double was Ronaldo in 2007, and the pair will now be on the same side in Spain.
In Bale and Ronaldo, Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti will have one of the most formidable attacks in football to compete with Spanish champion Barcelona, which boasts Lionel Messi and new recruit Neymar.
Tottenham's apparent insistence to complete its squad before selling Bale led to the deal being dragged out almost until the end of transfer window on Monday.
"Gareth was a player we had absolutely no intention of selling as we look to build for the future," Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said. "He is a player whose career we have fostered and developed and he was only a year into his new four-year contract.
"Such has been the attention from Real Madrid and so great is Gareth's desire to join them, that we have taken the view that the player will not be sufficiently committed to our campaign in the current season. We have, therefore, with great reluctance, agreed to this sale and do so in the knowledge that we have an exceptionally strong squad to which we have added no fewer than seven top internationals."