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Gareth Bale ends 17-year career as one of Wales' all-time great footballers

Gareth Bale

Wales captain Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from football at the age of 33 after a stellar and trophy-laden career. 

  • A five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid and is arguably Wales' finest ever footballer.
  • Bale was twice named PFA Players' Player of the Year while at Tottenham and moved to Real Madrid for a then-world record transfer fee of over £80m.
  • He has scored 41 goals in 111 appearances for the Welsh national team, including leading them at their first World Cup since 1958.
  • During his time at Real, he helped the club win three league titles, five Champions League titles, three Club World Cups, three UEFA Super Cups and the Copa del Rey.

Gareth Bale, one of his generation's most successful and talented footballers, announced his retirement from the sport at the age of 33. The Welsh captain and record goalscorer for the national team made the announcement on social media, saying, "After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football. I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love.”

Bale's career began at Southampton, where he made 45 appearances and scored five goals. He then joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2007, where he quickly established himself as a key player for the club. His performances for Spurs saw him twice named PFA Players' Player of the Year, picking up the main awards in 2011 and 2013. As the stand-out talent in the Premier League, he caught the attention of European giants Real Madrid. In September 2013, he made a world-record transfer to the Spanish club for a fee of over £80m.

During his time at Real Madrid, Bale won three league titles and, for a British player, an unprecedented five Champions League titles, as well as three Club World Cups, three UEFA Super Cups, and the Copa del Rey. He also scored 104 goals in over 250 appearances for the club, including two crucial goals in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool, one a spectacular overhead kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Looking back on his career, Bale said: "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."

In addition to his club achievements, Bale also had a highly successful international career. He was a key player for Wales as they qualified for the European Championships in 2016 and 2020, and he led the team to their first World Cup appearance since 1958 in 2022. Bale ended his international career with 41 goals in 111 appearances, cementing his place as one of the greatest footballers in Welsh history.

After his contract with Real Madrid expired, Bale joined Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC on a 12-month deal. He made 13 appearances for the club, including scoring a crucial last-minute equaliser in extra time to help LAFC win their first-ever MLS Cup.

Bale reflected: "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, team-mates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, my amazing friends and family, the impact you have had is immeasurable.”

As Bale looks towards the next chapter of his life, there is no doubt that he will be remembered as one of the greatest footballers of his generation. 

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