At aged 33, the former Wales, Tottenham and Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale announces his retirement from professional football.
On Monday, Bale made this surprise announcement on his social media channels.
It concludes a career in which Bale excelled for Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, and LAFC, while also establishing himself as one of the greatest players in Welsh football history.
“After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” Bale said in a statement.
“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 at Southampton, and his performance there earned him a move to Tottenham in May 2007. He joined Spurs as a left-back but was quickly moved to the left side of Tottenham’s attacking line, where he quickly established himself as one of the best players in the world.
He won numerous individual awards for his performances with the Premier League team, and Madrid signed Bale on a six-year contract in September 2013 for a then-world record fee of €100 million.
Bale won three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, and five Champions Leagues during his time in Spain (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022). Despite being frozen out in the final stages of his Madrid contract, he contributed some historic moments for Los Blancos, including a stunning overhead kick in their 3-1 Champions League final win over Liverpool.
He spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Tottenham Hotspur near the end of his Madrid career. After one final season back in Madrid, he left at the end of his contract in June 2022 and signed a 12-month deal with Los Angelos FC(LAFC).
He made 14 appearances in the United States, with his most notable contribution coming in the MLS Cup final, when he scored a 128th-minute extra-time header to tie the game 3-3 against the Philadelphia Union. This forced the match to a penalty shootout, where LAFC won their first major trophy.
“To show my gratitude to all of those that have played their part along this journey feels like an impossibility,” Bale added. “I feel indebted to many people for helping to change my life and shape my career in a way I couldn’t ever have dreamed of when I first started out at 9 years old.
“To my previous clubs Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC, all of my managers and coaches, backroom staff, teammates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, my amazing friends and family, the impact you have had is immeasurable.”
He has made 111 appearances with 41 goals in his international career, which made him the most capped Wales men’s player. During the Euro 2016, he helped the team to the semifinals, he also spearheaded their campaigns at Euro 2020, alongside captained the in the recent World Cup, which was the first Welsh men’s team’s appearance in the World Cup since 1958.
“My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life but who I am,” Bale wrote. “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.”
In his retirement statement; “I move on with anticipation to the next stage of my life, a time of change and transition, an opportunity for a new adventure.”
He says even though he has retired from club and international football and whatever his new adventure becomes, he would keep a close eye on the Wales team.
“So for now I am stepping back, but not away from the team that lives in me and runs through my veins,” he added. “After all, the dragon on my shirt is all I need.”
Bale has not yet announced what his next plans are.