7. Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale became world football's most expensive player last summer but his journey super-stardom was far from a smooth one, particularly given his difficult start to life at Tottenham Hotspur.

Bale failed to win any of his first 24 matches as a Spurs player following a £10m move in 2007, although that fee was later revised due to Southampton's financial problems.

Birmingham City nearly landed a frustrated youngster largely operating at full-back, but Bale persisted and eventually his star quality shone through.

The Welsh wizard recovered from a spell on the sidelines after knee surgery and then never looked back, moved forward by Harry Redknapp and nurtured into the star performer now on show every week at the Bernabeu.

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