Bale ignores record fee
Gareth Bale is focused on his 'journey' at Real Madrid and not the expectation which accompanies his record transfer fee.
The Welshman became the most expensive player in world football last summer when he completed an £86million move to Spain from Tottenham Hotspur.
For some, trying to justify such a hefty price tag would be a thankless task, with life under the brightest of spotlights seeing every performance dissected in minute detail.
Bale, though, has embraced a standing as a global icon and has settled quickly into life among the Galacticos at Santiago Bernabeu.
He claims his success is a result of being able to distance himself from the furore which surrounded his switch to Real and dedicating all of his efforts to being the best he can possibly be - having had to play catch-up fitness-wise upon arriving at Los Blancos.
Bale said following Real's thumping 4-0 victory over Bayern Munich on Tuesday which carried them into the UEFA Champions League final: "I do think of the journey I have made.
"Missing pre-season affected me massively. I didn't realise how important a pre-season was until I came to Madrid.
"It took a little while for me to get going, which I think everyone understood. But I have been able to really kick-on after Christmas, to get my fitness up and play well.
"I try not to think about the fee. I came to Madrid to play football and I am enjoying that. If I think about that and nothing else, then I know that I'll play well."
Bale is aware that he cannot afford to have any distractions, with a Real Madrid a club that demands success and is expected to mount a serious challenge on all fronts in each passing season.
He added: "Real Madrid is just the most massive club.
"No matter who it is and where you are, everybody wants to beat Real Madrid.
"The expectation here is absolutely huge but we all thrive on the pressure. We certainly did against Bayern.
"We have performed unbelievably all season and now we have one more game to go. Everyone who comes to Real Madrid wants to win the Champions League and now we have a real chance to do it."