Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 33.
Bale made the surprise announcement on Monday in a statement posted on his social media.
It ended a career that had seen Bale excel at Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid and LAFC, while 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 national team,” Bale said in a statement.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have achieved my dream of playing the sport I love. It really gave me some of the best times of my life.
The highest peak in 17 seasons, will be impossible to recreate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.”
At club level, Bale began his professional career at Southampton, and his form there led to his move to Tottenham in May 2007.
He joined Spurs at left-back but was quickly moved to the left position of Tottenham’s forward line. , and then he established himself as one of the best players in the world.
He has won a host of individual awards for his performances in the Premier League team, and in September 2013 Madrid signed Bale on a record six-year contract. worth 100 million euros.
In Spain, Bale won 3 La Liga titles, 1 Copa del Rey and 5 Champions League (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022).
Despite being frozen in the later stages of his contract at Madrid, he contributed to a number of historic moments for Los Blancos, including a superb header in their 3-1 win over Liverpool in 2018 National Championship Finals.
At the end of his Madrid career, he spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Spurs. And after his final season back in Madrid, he left the club in June 2022 at the end of his contract and signed a 12-month contract with LAFC.
He made 14 appearances for the United States, and his biggest contribution was a 128th-minute header in the MLS Cup Final, which saw LAFC draw 3-3 against the Philadelphia Union.
This forced the match into a penalty shootout, which resulted in LAFC winning their first major trophy.
“Expressing my gratitude to all those who have played their part throughout this journey seems impossible,” Bale added.
“I feel indebted to many people for helping to change my life and shape my career in ways I could never have dreamed of when I started at the age of nine.
“To my old clubs Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC, to all of my managers and coaches, to the backstage staff, to my teammates, to all of them.
My devoted fans, my agents, my amazing friends and my family, the impact you’ve had has been immeasurable.”
Bale’s final game of his football career was playing for Wales in the 2022 World Cup, where he made his final match in a record 111 caps for England in a 0-3 loss to England.
He led the team in this competition and when he announced his retirement, he released a separate statement addressed to his “Welsh family”.
He ended his international career as Wales’ most capped male player with 111 appearances, along with a record 41 goals.
He helped the team reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016, while also leading their campaigns at Euro 2020 and the recent World Cup, in the Wales men’s first World Cup appearance since 1958.
“My journey on the international stage has changed not only my life but also who I am,” Bale wrote.
“The opportunity to be Welsh and to be chosen to play with the captain of Wales has given me something incomparable to anything I have been through.
“I am humbled and honored to be part of the history of this incredible country, to feel the support and passion of the Red Wall, and to travel together to unexpected and wonderful places.”
Gareth Bale has not announced what his next plans are: “I move forward in anticipation of the next phase of my life,” he wrote in his retirement statement.
“A time of change and transition, an opportunity for a new adventure.”
Whatever form this new adventure takes, he says he will be keeping a close eye on his Wales team.
“So now I’m taking a step back, but not far 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.”
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