Gareth Bale announces retirement from football

Wales icon Gareth Bale has announced his shock retirement from club and international football at the age of 33.

The left-back turned forward won 111 caps for Wales, leading them in Euro 2020 and at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, calling his time in a Wales shirt “a dream come true”. He scored 41 goals for his country and is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, Welsh player of all time.

The Cardiff-born superstar began his career at Southampton before moving to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007. He then became the world’s costliest player when he sealed an £85million move to Real Madrid in 2013. Last summer, he opted for a move to Los Angeles FC.

Bale is one of the most highly-decorated players of the modern era, winning 18 trophies. In the 2012/13 season, he was named both the Premier League Player of the Season and the Premier League Young Player of the Season, a campaign which preceded his mega-money move to the Spanish capital.

He was crowned Welsh Footballer of the Year six years in a row between 2010 and 2016.

In a statement, he wrote: “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.

“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.

“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. 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.

“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.

“My wife and my children, your love and support has carried me through. Right beside me for all the highs and lows, keeping me grounded along the way. You inspire me to be better, and to make you proud.

“So, I move on with anticipation to the next stage of my life. A time of change and transition, an opportunity for a new adventure…”

Following Wales’ exit from the World Cup, Bale was quizzed on his future and he gave no inclination that he would retire from the game. Instead he said he hoped he would be involved in the upcoming internationals in March and beyond.

Indeed, when he joined LAFC last July, he said he had not just “come here for six or 12 months” and had one eye on Wales’ Euro 2024 campaign.

Clearly, though, something changed in the intervening period. He led Wales out in Qatar and scored their only goal – a penalty against USA – and their first on the biggest stage for this country in 64 years. A fitting way, perhaps for him to bow out.

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