Gareth Bale: Wales captain retires from football at the age of 33

Gareth Bale celebrates winning the UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid against Liverpool in 2018
Gareth Bale has won five UEFA Champions League titles, more than any other British player

Wales captain Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from football at the age of 33 after an impressive career.

The most represented player in his country’s national team and the top scorer in the number of goals announced his decision on social media.

A five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, Bale is arguably Wales’ best ever footballer.

“After careful and considered consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” said Bell.

“I feel very fortunate to have achieved my dream of playing the sport that I love.”

Cardiff-born Bale’s career took him from Southampton to Tottenham Hotspur and made a world record move to Spanish giants Real before moving to Los Angeles Football Club in June 2022.

He was a talisman for his country as they reached the 2016 and 2020 European Championships before leading Wales in their first World Cup since 1958 in Qatar 2022, ending his international career with 41 goals in 111 appearances.

Bale was named Footballer of the Year twice while at Tottenham, in 2010-11 and 2012-13, and moved to Real Madrid for a world record fee in excess of £80m in September 2013.

During his time in the Spanish capital, Bale helped Real win three league titles and five UEFA Champions League titles – a record not matched by any other British player – along with three Club World Cups, three UEFA Super Cups and a Spanish Cup.

“He. She [football] You really gave me some of the best moments of my life.”

“Highs over 17 seasons, it will be impossible to repeat, no matter what the next season has in store for me.”

From Saint Mary’s to San Siro

Bale joined Tottenham in a £10m deal in 2007 after playing 45 games for Southampton, scoring five goals.

Having been used mainly as a left-back early in his playing career, he has really begun to thrive in a Tottenham shirt when he steps forward, and particularly caught the eye with a scintillating hat-trick in the Champions League at the San Siro against European champions Inter. Milan.

Bale’s impressive form at Tottenham secured a move to Real Madrid, where his spell wasn’t always positive despite the fact that he scored 104 goals in over 250 appearances for the club.

Injuries and inconsistency in form meant fewer first team opportunities as time went on in Spain.

In 2019, Bale looked set to move to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning, but the proposed deal fell through, with the striker saying at the time that Real Madrid had “blocked” the move.

His relationship with the Spanish giants was further affected after he celebrated Wales’ qualification for Euro 2020 with a Welsh flag emblazoned with the words ‘Wales’. golf. Madrid. In that order.

He returned to Tottenham on loan in 2021-22 – scoring 17 goals to give him a Tottenham record total of 72 goals in 237 appearances at a club he still adores – before making just seven appearances for Madrid the following season, his last as a real player.

After his contract with Real Madrid expired, Bale joined LAFC on a 12-month deal, although his time in the United States was plagued by fitness issues.

Bale managed 13 games – including just two – with LAFC, though he did help the club lift the MLS Cup for the first time in November by scoring a last-minute equalizer in extra time to set up a penalty shootout win for his side.

An opportunity for a new adventure

“Showing my gratitude to all those who have played their part in this journey feels like the impossible,” Bell said.

“I feel indebted to so many people for helping change my life and shape my career in a way I could never have dreamed of when I started at the age of nine.

“To my former clubs Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC, all the former managers and coaches, the backroom staff, my team-mates, all the dedicated fans, my clients, my amazing friends and family, the impact I have left is immeasurable.

“My father and sister, without your dedication in the early days, without such a strong foundation, I would not have written this statement now, so thank you for setting me on this path and for your unwavering support.

“My wife and children, your love and support have carried me. Right by my side for all the highs and lows that have kept me along the way, you inspire me to be better and make you proud.

“So I turn with anticipation to the next phase of my life, a time of change in transition and an opportunity for a new adventure.”

Ending Wells’ wait of 58 years

While he faced criticism at times from Real Madrid fans, Bale’s contribution was never questioned by Welsh fans.

Wales exited their last World Cup at the group stage, and their loss to England proved to be the final appearance of Bale’s career.

It was not a fitting end for a player who achieved extraordinary feats for his country.

Bale made his Southampton debut as a 16-year-old in April 2006, and his first official match followed weeks later.

This made Bill Wells the youngest international player – although that record has since been broken.

That debut, in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago in May 2006, marked the beginning of a Welsh career in which Bale inspired his country’s best period in their history.

Having ended a 58-year wait to appear in the tournament by qualifying for Euro 2016, Wales had a thrilling run to the semi-finals, losing only to eventual winners Portugal.

They also reached the knockout stages of the next European Championship before Wales’ victory in last summer’s play-off final against Ukraine marked Wales’ long-awaited return to the World Cup.

“My decision to retire from international football was by far the most difficult of my career,” Bale said.

“How do I describe what it means to me to be part of this country and this team? How can I express the impact it has had on my life? How can I express the way I have felt every time I put on this Welsh shirt? My answer is that I cannot do any of the same. These things are in words.

“But I know that everyone involved in Welsh football feels the magic and is affected in such a powerful and unique way, so I know you feel what I feel without ever using any words.

“It is my journey on the international stage that has changed not only my life but who I am. The fortune of being Welsh, being chosen to play and captaining Wales has given me something incomparable to anything else I have experienced.

“I am honored and privileged to be able to play a part in the history of this amazing country, and I have felt the support and passion of the Red Wall and our presence together in unexpected and amazing places.

“I shared a locker room with the boys who became brothers and things in the back rooms that became family.

“I have played with the most amazing coaches and have felt the unrelenting support and love of the most dedicated fans in the world. Thank you to each and every one of you for being with me on this journey.

“So now I’m holding back but not too far from the team that lives in me and runs in my veins yet all I need is a dragon on my shirt.”

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