Gareth Bale announces retirement from professional football

Gareth Bale announces retirement from professional football

Gareth Bale has called time on his professional football career. James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

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 channels.

It brings to an end a career that saw Bale shine for Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid and LAFC, while also establishing himself as one of the greatest players in Welsh football history.

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“After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” Bale said in a statement.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have achieved my dream of playing the sport I love. It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest in 17 seasons, which will be impossible to repeat, despite what next chapter he has in store for me.”

At club level, Bale began his professional career at Southampton and his form there earned him a move to Tottenham in May 2007. He joined Spurs as a left-back but was soon moved to a position on the left of the touchline. Tottenham striker and he subsequently established himself as one of the best players in the world.

He won a number of individual awards for his performances for the Premier League side and in September 2013, Madrid signed Bale on a six-year deal for a world record fee of €100 million.

— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) January 9, 2023

In Spain, Bale won three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey and five Champions Leagues (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2022). Although he was frozen out in the latter stages of his contract with Madrid, he contributed to several historic moments for Los Blancos, including his stunning overhead kick in their 3-1 win over Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final .

At the end of his Madrid career, he spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Spurs. And after one final season in Madrid, he left the club in June 2022 at the end of his contract and signed a 12-month deal with LAFC.

He made 14 appearances in the United States and his biggest contribution came with a header in the 128th minute of extra time in the MLS Cup final, which saw LAFC draw the match 3-3 against the Philadelphia Union. This forced the match into a penalty shootout leading to LAFC securing their first major trophy.

“To show my gratitude to everyone who has played their part during this journey feels impossible,” added Bale. “I feel indebted to many people who helped me change my life and shape my career in a way I could not have dreamed of when I first started at the age of 9.

“To my former clubs Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC, all my managers and coaches, backroom staff, team-mates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, friends and family wonderful, the impact you have had is immeasurable.”

Bale’s last act in football was playing for Wales at the 2022 World Cup, where he earned the last of his record 111 caps in their 3-0 defeat to England. He managed the team in that competition and in announcing his retirement, he issued a separate statement to his “Welsh family”.

— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) January 9, 2023

He ends his international career as Wales’ most capped men’s player with 111 caps, alongside his record 41 goals. He helped the team on their journey to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, along with spearheading their campaigns at Euro 2020 and the recent World Cup, in what was Wales’ men’s first World Cup appearance since from 1958.

“My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life, but also who I am,” Bale wrote. “The fortune of being Welsh and being selected to play and captain Wales has given me something incomparable to anything else I’ve experienced.

“I am honored and humbled to have been able to play a role in the history of this incredible country, to have felt the support and passion of the red wall, and together we have been to unexpected and amazing places.”

Bale has not revealed what his future plans are: “I look forward to 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 that new adventure takes, he says he will keep a close eye on his Wales team.

“So for now I’m retiring, but not away 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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