If Gareth Bale set out to prove a point in Kiev on Saturday, he absolutely succeeded in his mission.
Bale's absence from the Real Madrid starting XI for their Champions League final clash with Liverpool will have hurt.
The Wales international has been frustrated at not being a first-team fixture at Madrid this season, and having to take a place on the bench for a second successive final will have come as a test of patience and character, even for a man so supremely confident in his own ability.
Bale did not warm up with the rest of his team-mates before the match but was called upon after an hour with the scores level at 1-1 – Sadio Mane having produced a swift response to Karim Benzema's fortuitous opener early in the second half.
Whatever the reason behind his pre-match no show, Bale was more than ready to perform.
It took the 28-year-old just two minutes to produce what he later acknowledged was the best goal of his career – a perfectly executed bicycle kick that swung the match back in Madrid's favour.
"On the biggest stage in world football, to score a goal like that is a dream come true," he said of the strike, which gave Loris Karius – at fault for Madrid's first – no chance.
And it was Bale who wrapped up the 3-1 win with a 25-yard strike that somehow evaded the hands of goalkeeper Karius, who had a memorable evening for all the wrong reasons.
Bale had scored five goals in five matches heading into the final and had every right to believe that he should be starting, or at least consider that he could hold down a regular first-team berth at one of Europe's other footballing heavyweights.
Those frustrations look likely to come to a head during the forthcoming transfer window. Either Bale receives assurances over his place in the team or there is a genuine possibility his heroic performance from the bench could be his final act for Madrid.
Bale was pressed several times on the prospect of a departure after the match and his response was invariably the same - that he would sit down with his agent to consider the situation.
His careful choice of words contrasted starkly with that of team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo, who stole the headlines by springing the surprise that he too could be considering his future with the club.
Bale has been linked with Bayern Munich, Manchester United and former club Tottenham over the last couple of seasons but there will be no shortage of sides who would love to sign a player of the Welshman's calibre.
Whether he was trying to prove a point to Zinedine Zidane, his critics or himself in Kiev on Saturday, Bale can surely have done no more to demonstrate that he still belongs on the biggest stage.
|Netherlands 2 France 0: Wijnaldum & Depay decisive as Germany are relegated|
|Wales 1 Denmark 2: Jorgensen and Braithwaite seal Nations League promotion|
|Oxlade-Chamberlain targeting early return|
|New Zealand-born Aki will ´relish´ facing All Blacks – Marmion|
|Portugal cannot focus on absent Ronaldo - Santos|
|Ramsey reiterates he wants to stay with Jaguars despite cryptic tweet|
|We tried to hit a home run and it didn´t work out - D´Antoni explains Carmelo exit|
|West Ham´s Zabaleta backs Premier League´s VAR introduction|
|Southgate eyes winning end to England´s ´brilliant year´|
|Patient Zverev seizes opportunity to make amends at ATP Finals|
|Rodgers: Packers still believe they can make playoffs|
|Mahomes hoping to ketchup to Heinz´s touchdown target|
|Ranieri tells Fulham fans not to expect repeat of Leicester ´fairytale´|
|Brown to leave role as RFU chief executive|
|Croatia star Rakitic ruled out of England clash|
|Capital gains for Zverev as he secures last-four spot in London|
|Sancho rise continues with Player of the Month award|
|Jones-Buchanan, Ablett and Briscoe sign new Rhinos deals|
|Root leads from the front as aggressive England assume control|
|Croatia´s Lovren antagonises Ramos and ´rude´ Spain|
|Rakitic has ´enormous respect´ for England ahead of Nations League decider|
|Ireland make flanker switch with Leavy out of All Blacks clash|
|Pakistan rip through Black Caps in Abu Dhabi|
|WATCH: Barcelona mark 15-year anniversary of Messi´s first match|
|Sterling, that you? - Walker uses falling fan to poke fun at England team-mate|
|Fleetwood applies pressure on Molinari, Wallace leads in Dubai|
|Don´t talk to me about VAR – Rakitic not over World Cup final loss|
|Van Dijk leadership essential for Liverpool – Wijnaldum|
|Dalic: Croatia´s bench was ready to stop Spain!|
|Sublime Root century gives England imposing lead|
|Vinicius appreciates Solari influence at Real Madrid|
|Havertz would suit Bayern Munich – Kimmich|
|Wilder: Roach recruitment a sign of Fury nerves|
|Ranieri targets defensive improvements at failing Fulham|
|PSG close investigation into player recruitment practices after finding no discrimination|
|Mayweather: Nasukawa exhibition back on|
|Witsel: Joining Borussia Dortmund my best career decision|
|Ballon d´Or win would not change Modric´s ´best year´|
|Ireland v New Zealand: Opta stats behind the meeting of the world´s top two|
|The Breakdown: A statistical look at Saturday´s rugby internationals|
|Batshuayi dismisses reports of Valencia departure|
|Brazil must make Copa America final – Tite|
|Rockets rout Warriors as Green goes scoreless|
|Seahawks rally past Packers|
|Lakers G Rondo to miss 4-5 weeks|
|Durant is done with questions about Green|
|Smith, Warner set to return to IPL in 2019|
|No rivalry between Mbappe and Griezmann – Deschamps|
|Neymar: Emery will bring success to Arsenal|
|Jedvaj backs Croatia to deliver against England|
|Howell grabs first-round lead at Sea Island|
|Rooney backing Kane to break England record|
|Betts named American League MVP|
|Republic of Ireland must improve, says under-pressure O´Neill|
|Injured Sergio Ramos to leave Spain squad|
|Yelich named National League MVP|
|Low praises ´beautiful goals´ from Sane and Gnabry|
|Belgium boss Martinez pleased with patient Batshuayi|
|Wilson and Sancho pay tribute to England ´legend´ Rooney|
|Rooney gave England squad a lesson in humility - Southgate|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: LeBron passes Chamberlain, Williamson looking like he is next|
|We still have a chance - Luis Enrique not giving up hope after Spain defeat|
|Rockets ´parting ways´ with Anthony|
|Rooney became ´embarrassed´ at Manchester United|
|Federer: ´Easier´ to play when I´m up against it|
|Rooney convinced England are in safe hands with Southgate|
|Black Caps skipper Williamson confident over first Test availability|
|Federer cruises into last four of ATP Finals for 15th time|
|Republic of Ireland 0 Northern Ireland 0: Randolph saves light up bore draw|
|England 3 United States 0: Experimental side impresses on Rooney farewell|