Gareth Bale retires from club and international football 

Gareth Bale Real Madrid
Gareth Bale Real Madrid

Former Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur player Gareth Bale has announced his sudden retirement from professional football at the age of 33.

The Wales star made the shock announcement on Monday, bringing an end to a career that has spanned almost two decades.

In a statement on his social media handle, Bale revealed he had made the decision after careful considerations and with support from his family.

“After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” the statement read.

“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.”

Bale began his professional career at Southampton, with whom he made his senior debut in 2006. From there, he moved to Tottenham in May 2007 and established himself at the north London side as a brilliant attacker, having started out as a left-back. 

After six seasons at White Hart Lane, where he won an array of individual awards, Bale joined Spanish La Liga giants Real Madrid for a then-world-record fee of €100 million.

At Madrid, the Welshman established himself as one of the best players in the world, helping the La Liga side win three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and five Champions Leagues (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022).

He spent the later part of his Madrid career back on loan at Tottenham before transferring to MLS side Los Angeles FA when his contract in Madrid expired. 

He has just been six months at the club but has now decided to call it quits having last played in the World Cup with Wales. Bale earned a record-breaking 111 caps and remains arguably the greatest Welshman in the game.

“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” the 33-year-old added.

“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 nine years old.

“To my previous clubs, Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally, LAFC. All of my previous managers and coaches, backroom staff, teammates, 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….”

Of his historic international career, the now-former Wales captain wrote: “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 into 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 backroom 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.

Bale also revealed his next plans: “I move on with anticipation to the next stage of my life,” he wrote. 

“A time of change and transition, an opportunity for a new adventure.”