The Real Madrid and Wales ace spoke about his time with the Saints on BT Sport.
Gareth Bale has enjoyed a superb career so far, playing for one of the most famous clubs in the world in Real Madrid, winning multiple trophies including four Champions Leagues, and helping Wales to the semi-finals of a major international tournament at Euro 2016.
The 29-year-old, who held the world record for most expensive transfer when he joined Los Blancos from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, is just one of many high-calibre graduates from the Southampton academy, joining in 1999 and breaking through into the senior team in 2006.
Though he soon left for Spurs in 2007, Bale retains a soft spot for the south coast club and, in conversation with BT Sport, as quoted by the Daily Mail, he spoke about his career in football and was very complimentary about the place where he burst through the ranks.
“I remember my first game, I was so nervous! I felt like I didn’t want to go out on the pitch to be honest, I was 16 at the time, had been playing in the reserve team and doing well and to be honest I wasn’t really expecting to be called up to the first team,” said Bale of when he made his debut in a 2-0 win over Millwall.
“We used to train on the lower pitches on the other side of the training ground and we used to come back in early sometimes to watch them train and be in awe of them. To then be there was just one of the best feelings. You felt like you had made it there and then. I loved playing for Southampton, the fans are incredible and I will always be in debt to them.”
According to Transfermarkt, Bale made 44 appearances for Southampton, scoring five goals – his first a superb free kick for the Saints against Derby in the 2006-07 Championship season (BBC Sport) – and registering 12 assists.