One of the most illustrious careers in British football history came to an end on Monday as 33-year-old Gareth Bale announced his retirement from club and international competition.
Bale, who set a record with 111 games for Wales, helped his nation emerge from a footballing wasteland to win two European Championships, including the Euro 2016 semifinals, and its first World Cup since 1958.
On November 29, during Wales’ World Cup group-stage match against England, the Los Angeles FC forward, who had previously played for Southampton, Tottenham, and Real Madrid, made his final appearance in a competitive match.
“After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” Bale wrote on his social media accounts.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love.
“It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest of highs over 17 seasons, that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.”
Bale began his professional career with Southampton but rose to prominence in the Premier League at Tottenham. He later moved to Real Madrid for a then-record cost of £85 million ($104 million), where he won five Champions League championships.
The forward moved to Los Angeles FC in June 2022, and during his brief stay in America, he won the MLS Cup.
Transfer: Real Madrid Warn Mourinho Over Gareth Bale
“From my very first touch at Southampton to my last with LAFC and everything in between, shaped a club career that I have an immense pride and gratitude for,” he said.
He added: “To show my gratitude to all of those that have played their part along this journey, feels like an impossibility. I feel indebted to many people for helping to change my life and shape my career in a way I couldn’t have ever dreamed of when I first started out at nine years old.”
Wales lost to Iran and England in the group stage despite Bale’s penalty kick goal in his nation’s 1-1 draw with the USA in Qatar.
After their World Cup exit, he promised to continue playing “as long as I’m desired,” but the Cardiff-born forward has already made the decision to hang up his boots.
Separately, Bale addressed a statement to his “Welsh family” in which he said that it had been “by far the hardest of my career” to decide to leave international football.
Transfer: What Bale Told Zidane Before Leaving For Tottenham
“My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life but who I am,” he said.
“The fortune of being Welsh and being selected to play for and captain Wales, has given me something incomparable to anything else I’ve experienced.
“I am honoured and humbled to have been able to play a part in the history of this incredible country, to have felt the support and passion of the red wall, and together have been to unexpected and amazing places.”
LAFC paid tribute to their star forward.
“We want to thank Gareth for everything he brought to our club,” LAFC co-president and general manager John Thorrington said. “He arrived here with a goal to win championships in LA and, like he has done everywhere else in his career, he succeeded.
“It was an honour to have one of the most talented, dynamic and exciting players of his generation finish his career with a title for LAFC.”
Transfer: Bale Accuses Real Madrid Of Not Allowing Him To Leave
Tottenham tweeted: “Congratulations on an incredible career.”
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