London: From "alice band-wearing softie" to Real Madrid galactico is how Britain's press on Monday summed up the stunning rise of Gareth Bale after his transfer for an unconfirmed world-record fee.
Widespread reports in England have suggested Bale's move from Tottenham Hotspur to Madrid, announced late Sunday, will make the Welshman the world's most expensive player with Real set to pay 101 million euros ($133.5 million, £86 million) for his services.
But the Guardian's David Hytner recalled that Bale's journey to the top had not always been smooth, highlighting a training ground clash during his early, barren days at Spurs which prompted then boss Harry Redknapp to demand an improvement in his attitude.
"Bale went down but, as he had treatment, he could be seen feeling about for the band that upholstered his long hair," Hytner said of incident. "Redknapp was unimpressed, the pair had a chat."
Bale, who the Guardian called the "100-million euro man", later admitted that he "definitely needed to toughen up".
"Look at Bale now," wrote Hytner. "The Premier League's best player from last season has become a Real Madrid galactico".
The Times headline hailed the "world's least flamboyant football star."
"Now that the Spanish club has just paid a fee worth more than the GDP of the Polynesian island of Tuvalu, will Bale be unable to resist the lure of the celebrity life?" asked its report.
"He does drive a Porsche and has posed for photographs with fans at a Nando's restaurant...and was pictured last week in a pink shirt and baseball cap.
"However, Real Madrid fans will be more than happy for Bale to be as reclusive as he likes - as long as he recreates the form that brought 21 goals in 33 Premier League games last year."
The Daily Telegraph's Kristian Walsh also marvelled at the shy star's transformation from "an awkward left back that cursed his Tottenham team" to "phenomenon".
"Bale was an ungainly teenager who failed to win his first 24 league games with Tottenham Hotspur," he wrote.
"How and when this happened is up for debate, such was the speed of the transformation.
"It was as if he was struck by an ethereal object from the skies, like the origin story of a lycra-clad superhero," he added.
The Daily Mail's Neil Ashton mulled what effect the transfer, which was announced straight after Tottenham's defeat to their arch North London rivals Arsenal, would have on Spurs.
"He is still developing, but Spurs are a team in a hurry after spending £110 million to guarantee a top-four finish in the Premier League," he wrote.
"They must do it without Bale, on his way to the Bernabeu to join up with the galacticos for the first time.
"For Tottenham, that must feel like another defeat."