Real Madrid got an instant return on Gareth Bale when they signed him from Tottenham Hotspur for a then world-record fee of £85.3m in 2013.
The 24-year-old Wales forward made an immediate impact on his debut on 14 September 2013, scoring at Estadio de la Ceramica alongside Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw at Villarreal.
Scroll forward six seasons and 1,974 days and Bale, now 29, claimed his 100th goal for Los Blancos, scoring Real Madrid’s third in a 3-1 win over city-rivals Atletico.
Bale’s century of goals for the Spanish giants includes three in Champions League finals – including two in last season’s 3-1 win over Liverpool – and a stunning individual effort that clinched the 2014 Copa del Rey against arch-rivals Barcelona.
No other British export has won more major titles or scored more top-flight goals abroad than Wales’ record scorer.
Players of the calibre of Owen Hargreaves, Gary Lineker, John Collins, Graeme Souness, David Platt, Trevor Francis, Laurie Cunningham and Glenn Hoddle played abroad, with varying levels of success.
But here are six other players whose achievements alongside Bale’s form a distinguished list to have made an indelible mark on the European clubs they joined, with honours that include Champions League triumphs, domestic titles and individual awards.
Who do you think is Britain’s greatest footballing export?
John Charles (Juventus, Roma)
Wales icon Charles, who died in 2004, was voted the best foreign player to play for Juventus in their centenary year in 1997 – ahead of the likes of Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane.
He was the first British player to move abroad and arrived in Turin in 1957 for a then British record transfer fee of £65,000 from Leeds United.
Charles was another to hit the ground running, scoring the winning goal in a 3-2 victory against Hellas Verona on his debut. He ended his first season with 28 goals as Juventus won the league and was named Italian player of the year.
Swansea-born Charles could play both up front and in defence and was affectionately known as ‘Il Buon Gigante’, the gentle giant, as incredibly he was never booked during his career.
He went on to win two more Scudetti and the Coppa Italia twice during his stay at Juve. Charles also had a brief spell at Roma later in his career.
David Beckham (Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan, Paris St-Germain)
David Beckham’s transfer to Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2003 made headline news around the world.
Beckham’s unveiling was attended by over 500 journalists from 25 different countries and, although he did not hit the heights he reached at Old Trafford, Beckham’s trophy haul in four different countries earns him a place on this list.
Beckham won La Liga and the Spanish Super Cup in his three years in Madrid before sealing a switch to the United States in 2007, signing a five-year deal with LA Galaxy.
A pioneer for Major League Soccer, Beckham’s signing made global headlines and elevated the league’s profile, a legacy still evident today with the improvement in standard of US soccer’s domestic league.
Beckham was an MLS Cup champion three times in Los Angeles, as well as earning a Ligue 1 title with PSG in 2013. While on loan at Milan, Beckham made his 100th appearance in the Champions League.
Now retired, Beckham continues to be an influential figure in the US, serving as the president of new franchise Inter Miami, while his former club LA Galaxy are set to build a statue in his honour.
Kevin Keegan (Hamburg)
Keegan became the highest-paid player in German football when he left Liverpool to move to Hamburg in 1977. –
The England striker did not make an auspicious start as he found it hard to settle and was sent off during a friendly against VfB Lubeck for punching an opponent, earning an eight-week ban.
But Keegan ended the season with 12 goals and the 1978 European Footballer of the Year award, now known as the Ballon d’Or.
The following season he led Hamburg to their first league title in 19 years, scoring 11 goals in the last 12 games of the season, and was again named European Footballer of the Year. Fans affectionately christened the 5ft 8in forward ‘Machtig Maus’ – Mighty Mouse.
Keegan’s final year at Hamburg was a story of near-misses, as the German side destroyed Real Madrid 4-1 in the second leg of their European Cup semi-final to go through 5-3 on aggregate. But the final against Nottingham Forest proved a step too far, with Brian Clough’s side winning 1-0.
Steve McManaman (Real Madrid)
McManaman left Liverpool to join Real Madrid on a free transfer in 1999 and established himself in a team packed full of superstars.
The England winger played 158 competitive games in four seasons and scored 14 goals, helping Real win two Champions Leagues, two La Liga titles, one UEFA Supercup, one Intercontinental Cup and one Spanish Supercup.
McManaman enjoyed a spectacular first season at the Bernabeu, with their march to the Champions League title as thrilling as their domestic struggles were puzzling.
Having seen off Bayern Munich in the semi-finals, Los Blancos faced Spanish rivals Valencia in the final at Stade de France.
With Real 1-0 up through a first-half goal from Fernando Morientes and the game still delicately poised, McManaman scored a sensational volley that helped Real win 3-0 and seal his man-of-the-match award.
The next season Real won La Liga for the first time in four years and McManaman would add a second La Liga and the 2002 Champions League title before moving back to England with Manchester City in 2003.
Chris Waddle (Marseille)
With Tottenham Hotspur in financial difficulty in 1989 and having just signed Gary Lineker from Barcelona, Marseille were able to prise Waddle away from White Hart Lane for an eye-catching £4.5m, the third-highest transfer fee ever paid at that time.
It was in Marseille Waddle produced arguably the greatest form of his career, particularly in the campaign after England’s World Cup semi-final defeat on penalties by West Germany at Italia 90, with Waddle missing his spot kick.
Waddle soon became the toast of Provence with his easy, loping style earning him the nickname ‘Magie Chris’ – Magic Chris – as he went on to score 28 goals in 140 appearances for OM.
Waddle steered Marseille to three successive league titles in 1990, 1991 and 1992 with Marseille also reaching the 1991 European Cup final, where they were defeated on penalties by Red Star Belgrade.
Indeed, such was Waddle’s success at Stade Velodrome that in 1998 Marseille’s fans voted Waddle their second greatest player of the century, behind striker Jean-Pierre Papin.
Paul Lambert (Borussia Dortmund)
Before he became a manager that every football fan in Norfolk has a strong opinion of, Paul Lambert proved a huge success as a player for Borussia Dortmund.
Lambert instantly proved a key figure for Dortmund under Ottmar Hitzfeld, deployed as a holding midfielder and performing in the role with great distinction.
Dortmund reached the Champions League final in Lambert’s first season and the Scotland midfielder produced a man-of-the-match display in the biggest game of his club career.
The German side stunned Juventus to win the tournament thanks to a 3-1 success in the final, with Lambert becoming the first British player to win the European Cup with a non-British side.
Lambert set up Karl-Heinz Riedle for the opening goal, but even more impressive was the man marking job he did on Zinedine Zidane.