Announcing his retirement from football at the age of 33, Gareth Bale captained the Welsh national team.
The country’s all-time leader in men’s goals scored and most-capped player made the announcement on Twitter.
As a five-time champion with Real Madrid, Bale is often considered to be the best footballer Wales has ever produced.
The decision to retire from club and international football was “carefully and thoughtfully considered,” Bale added.
Being able to compete in the sport I love is a dream come true.
Cardiff-born Bale moved from Southampton to Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in a then-record transfer. After that he joined with Los Angeles FC of Major League Soccer in June 2022.
He guided Wales to their first World Cup berth since 1958 in Qatar 2022. And retired from international play after scoring 41 goals in 111 games.
After being crowned footballer of the year twice while playing for Tottenham (2010–11 and 2012–13). Bale joined Real Madrid for a then-record sum of over £80 million in September 2013.
During his tenure in the Spanish capital, Bale helped Real win three league crowns and five Champions League titles. A number no other British player has matched. Along with three Club World Cups, three Uefa Super Cups and a Spanish cup.
Bale elaborated, saying, “It’s [football] given me some of the best times of my life.”
Whatever the future holds, it will never be able to match the highs I experienced in the 17 seasons.
To the Bernabéu Stadium, from St. Mary’s
From Southampton, where he played 45 times and scored five goals, to the Bernabeu in a trade reportedly costing £10 million in 2007, Bale moved to Tottenham.
Although he started as a left back, he didn’t shine until Spurs moved him in an offensive role. He scored a spectacular hat trick against European champion Inter Milan at the San Siro in the Champions League.
Bale’s brilliant play for Spurs led to a transfer to Real, where he scored 104 goals in over 250 appearances—including two game-winners in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool—but where he also experienced some disappointment.
That was one of the five European Cups Real won. Although injuries and erratic play limited his time with the first team.
Bale claimed that Real “blocked” his transfer to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning in early 2019. When he was close to making the switch.
After Wales qualified for Euro 2020, he celebrated by flying a Welsh flag with the words “Wales. Golf. Madrid” on it, which did not go over well with the Spanish powerhouses. That’s the order I’d like them in.
After making just seven club appearances for Madrid in 2022–23, he returned to Tottenham on loan in 2021–22. Then he scored 17 goals and claimed Spurs record of 72 goals in 237 games .
Bale signed a 12-month contract with LAFC after his deal with Real Madrid ended, but his time in the United States was marred by injuries.
Despite only starting twice, Bale played in 13 games for LAFC and helped the team win the MLS Cup on penalties in November.
A “Chance for an Exciting New Experience”
It’s impossible, Bale remarked, to “convey my gratitude to all of those that have played a part along this road.”
“Thanks to many people, my life and work have taken unexpected turns that I never would have predicted when I was nine years old.
“The influence of Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid, and LAFC, as well as my former coaches, managers, assistants, teammates, fans, agents, friends, and family, cannot be overstated.
“To my parents and sister, I want to say thank you for setting me on this path and for always being there for me. I wouldn’t be here today if you hadn’t worked hard in the beginning and given me such a solid basis.
“I wouldn’t be here without the love and support of my wife and kids. Always there for me, through the good times and the bad, a rock upon which I can always rely, you motivate me to improve myself so that I might earn your approval.
As a result, I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life, which promises to be full of transition and exciting new experiences.
Wales’s 58-year wait is now over.
Bale’s impact was never questioned by Welsh fans, despite occasional criticism from Real fans.
Losing to England in the group stage of the World Cup meant the end of Bale’s playing career for Wales.
It was an unfortunate finale for a player who had done so much for his nation.
In April of 2006, when Bale was 16 years old, he made his professional debut with Southampton. A few weeks later, he earned his first senior national team cap.
That made Bale the youngest Welsh international, though he has since been surpassed.
Bale made his Wales debut in a friendly match against Trinidad and Tobago in May of 2006. This was the beginning of a career that saw Wales enjoy their best period of play in their history, led in large part by Bale.
After waiting 58 years to finally qualify for a major tournament, Wales made it all the way to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 before falling to eventual champion Portugal.
Wales advanced to the quarterfinals of the following European Championship, and with a victory in the play-off final against Ukraine last summer, they finally qualified for the World Cup.