CROWDS flocked to Penarth Pier to catch a glimpse of Welsh football star Gareth Bale during filming for a TV advert on Monday, June 23.

Gareth, the world’s most expensive footballer after his £85million move to Real Madrid last summer, was seen doing football tricks on the pier and volleying balls into the sea.

Several Penarthians waded into the sea so that they could retrieve one of the balls kicked by the Cardiff-born Champions League winner.

One lucky Penarthian, Lawrence Lepore of the Pier Cafe, managed to get his football signed by the former Southampton and Tottenham winger after he finished filming around 5pm.

After safely storing the ball away he vowed to sell the bright yellow ball on ebay to the highest bidder.

Richard Nehemiah, who was down the pier with his daughter Lili, said that he swam out to retrieve one of the balls kicked by Gareth Bale after the production crew said they were running out.

“They were filming down the end of the pier and there was a small helicopter type thing filming from the top, and he launched the ball towards it,” he said.

“I’m going to keep it as a souvenir now.”

He added that they were both awe-struck to see Bale in the flesh after watching his match-winning performances in the Premier League, La Liga and Champions League.

After filming Gareth Bale was happy to pose for photos with several people, before he was ushered away by his entourage.

Salop Street resident Alex Abbott, 25, was also lucky enough to get his hands on one of the balls Gareth Bale kicked into the sea after he waded into the waters.

“It’s a bit of a shock to see an £80million player walking along Penarth Pier,” he said.

“I’m surprised he’d rather be here than in Madrid.”

Kim Fitzsimmons, head of PR for BT, said that the advert for BT was likely to be on TV in around a month.

She added that they chose to film on Penarth Pier as it was a “beautiful setting” and near where Gareth grew up.

She added that they couldn’t have had a better day weather-wise.