Gareth Bale announced his retirement from international and club football at the age of 33 on Monday, ending one of the most decorated careers in British football history.
Bale, who made a record 111 appearances for Wales, led his country from the wilds of international soccer to two European championships, reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016, and a first World Cup since 1958.
The Los Angeles FC striker, who previously played for Southampton, Tottenham and Real Madrid, made his last competitive appearance during Wales’ World Cup group stage match with England on November 29.
“After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” Bale wrote on his social media accounts.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have realized my dream of playing the sport that I love.
“It really has given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest of the highs in 17 seasons, which will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter throws at me.
Bale began his career at Southampton but made a name for himself in the Premier League at Tottenham, before moving, for a world-record fee of £85 million ($104 million), to Real Madrid, where he won five Premier League titles. Champions.
The striker joined Los Angeles FC in June 2022 and won the MLS Cup in his brief stint in the United States.
“From my first cap at Southampton to my last with LAFC and everything in between, he shaped a career at the club for which I have immense pride and gratitude,” he said.
He added: “Showing my gratitude to all those who have played their part throughout this journey, feels like an impossibility. I am indebted to so many people for helping change my life and shape my career in ways I could never have dreamed of when I started at nine years old.”
Bale scored from the penalty spot in his country’s 1-1 draw with the United States in Qatar, but defeats to Iran and England meant Wales withdrew at the group stage.
After his World Cup exit he said he would continue “as long as they love me”, but the Cardiff-born attacker has now decided to hang up his boots.
– ‘Tougher’ decision –
Bale issued a separate statement to his “Welsh family”, saying his decision to retire from international football had been “by far the most difficult of my career”.
“My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life but also who I am,” he said.
“The fortune to be Welsh and to be selected to play and captain Wales has given me something incomparable to anything I have experienced.
“I am humbled and honored 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 to have been in unexpected and amazing places.”
LAFC paid tribute to its star striker.
“We want to thank Gareth for everything he has brought to our club,” said LAFC Co-Chairman and General Manager John Thorrington. “He came here with the goal of winning championships in Los Angeles and, as he has done throughout his career, he did it.
“It was an honor to have one of the most talented, dynamic and exciting players of his generation end his career with a title for LAFC.”
Tottenham tweeted: “Congratulations on an amazing run.”