Gareth Bale announces retirement from football

Wales captain calls time on glittering career aged just 33

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Wales captain Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from football aged just 33.

The former Southampton, Tottenham and Real Madrid forward made his final competitive appearance during Wales’ World Cup group stage fixture with England on November 29.

He ended his club career playing in the US with Los Angeles FC, and scored a dramatic equaliser in extra time to help his side win the MLS Cup in November.

Bale, his country's most-capped men’s player with 111 appearances and top scorer with 41 goals, wrote on his social media accounts: “After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football.

“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.”

It was during his spell at Spanish giants Real Madrid that Bale's club career hit glittering new highs.

After joining Real from Tottenham Hotspur for €100 million in 2013, Bale went on to win 16 major trophies at the club, including five Champions Leagues, three La Ligas and one Copa del Rey.

He also won three Fifa Club World Cups, three Uefa Super Cups and a Spanish Super Cup.

The 32-year-old scored more than 100 goals for Real, three of them coming in Champions League finals, including a stunning overhead-kick against Liverpool in 2018.

“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," added Bale in his statement. "Playing for and captaining my country 111 times has truly been a dream come true.

“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.

“To my previous clubs, Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC. All of my previous managers and coaches, back room staff, team mates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, my amazing friends and family, the impact you have had is immeasurable.”

Bale led his country from the international football wilderness to qualify for two European Championships, reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016, and a first World Cup since 1958.

Bale scored from the penalty spot in Wales' 1-1 draw with USA in Qatar, but defeats to Iran and England saw Wales bow out in the group stage.

While the five-time Champions League winner insisted that he may carry on, the Cardiff-born attacker has now decided to hang up his boots.

"My decision to retire from international football has been by far the hardest of my career," Bale added.

"How do I describe what being a part of this country and team means to me? How do I articulate the impact it has had on my life? How do I put into words the way I felt every single time I put on that Welsh shirt? My answer is that I couldn't possibly do any of those things justice simply with words.

"But I know that every person involved in Welsh football feels the magic and is impacted in such a powerful and unique way, so I know you feel what I feel without using any words at all.

"My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life but who I am. 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'm 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.

Updated: January 09, 2023, 4:25 PM