To the anguish of soccer fans the world over, Welsh wingman Gareth Bale didn’t make an appearance in this year’s World Cup in Brazil. (The Welsh national team is notoriously bad at qualifying for the tournament.) It was a shame, for sure, considering that Bale is unequivocally the most exciting player in professional soccer right now.

“He has another ‘gear,’” says BBC soccer analyst Mark Lawrenson about Bale, who he claims is the fastest player he’s ever seen. “He’s got the ability to perform and use his technique at great pace.” 

Fortunately, Bale has been able to earn his money on the club circuit playing for Spanish team Real Madrid—his transfer from Tottenham Hotspur last April went through for a then-undisclosed amount, which FIFA recently confirmed at £78 million, or about $123 million. You could say Bale had a good start: In his debut match, the final of the Copa del Rey, versus Barcelona, he put the ball in the back of the net to win the game.

FIT FACT: Bale’s workouts last up to three hours, and include jumping exercises for power and 15-second sprint intervals.

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