Gareth Bale announces retirement after illustrious career with Tottenham and Real Madrid | Football | Sport
Real Madrid, Tottenham and Wales legend Gareth Bale announced his retirement from the sport on Monday in a lengthy statement released to social media after he guided his country to their first World Cup since 1958 this winter. The Welsh captain spearheaded his country’s charge to Qatar amid a glittering career, which saw him win the Champions League five times.
The legendary Welsh forward, who won five European titles with Real Madrid in addition to three La Liga trophies, announced he would be leaving the game at the age of 33. “After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” he wrote.
“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.
“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. Playing for and captaining my country 111 times has truly been a dream come true.
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“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 9 years old. To my previous clubs, Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC.”
Bale retires with more international caps and goals for Wales than any other player; two more caps than second-placed Chris Gunter and with 13 more goals than Ian Rush in the country’s goalscoring charts.
Bale then added a message of gratitude to his family and those closest to him, for their support throughout his successful career. “All of my previous managers and coaches, backroom staff, team-mates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, my amazing friends and family, the impact you have had is immeasurable,” he said.
“My parents and my sister, without your dedication in those early days, without such a strong foundation, I wouldn’t be writing this statement right now, so thank you for putting me on this path and for your unwavering support.”
Bale went from a full-back at Southampton to the two-time PFA Player of the Year at Tottenham as one of the best players in the Premier League, before he got a move to Real Madrid for a world-record fee in 2013. After successful years saw him, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, dominate European football’s premier club competition, he clashed with the club and its fans before moving to MLS side Los Angeles FC ahead of the World Cup.
He was the talisman for Wales’ Euro 2016 and 2020 campaigns, the former saw them reach the semi-finals in their first tournament for 58 years before being knocked out by Ronaldo’s Portugal, who went on to lift the trophy.
Bale further wrote an additional message to his “Welsh family” as thanks to the Red Wall for standing by him amid difficult times at Real Madrid. “To my Welsh family, my decision to retire from International football has been, by far the hardest of my career. 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 in to 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 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.
“I shared a dressing room with boys that became brothers, and back room staff that became family, I played for the most incredible managers, and felt the undying support and love from the most dedicated fans in the world.
“Thank you to every one of you for being on this journey with me. So for now I am stepping back, but not away from the team that lives in me and runs through my veins. After all, the dragon on my shirt is all I need. Together stronger. Diolch.”