Gareth Bale, the five-time Champions League champion with Real Madrid and the all-time leading goal scorer for Wales’ men, has declared his retirement from the game. Bale, one of the most decorated players in British history, left Los Angeles FC midway through his contract, which was set to end this summer.
In a little more than a month after Wales’ devastating group-stage defeat at their first World Cup finals competition in 64 years, Bale made the decision to continue playing. In his first World Cup finals participation, Bale led Wales as captain.
“My decision to retire from international football has been by far the hardest of my career,”
“My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life but who I am.”
Bale began his career at Southampton and made his debut there at the age of 16. He then spent six years at Tottenham before joining Madrid in 2013 for a then-record £85 million fee. Even as recently as November, he had said he would continue to play at least until Wales’ Euro 2024 qualifying campaign was through. Bale made 111 appearances for his country and scored 41 goals.
Bale stated in a different social media post:
“After careful and thoughtful consideration I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football.
“I feel incredibly fortunate 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 of highs over 17 seasons that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.”
He was substituted at halftime in England’s 3-0 loss to Qatar in November, which implies that match was his final. Rob Page, the manager of Wales, was certain that Bale would keep his word afterward.
“I don’t think it will be the last time you see Gareth in a Wales jersey.”
Bale’s amazing overhead kick goal against Liverpool in the Champions League final of 2018—the first of his two goals in Kyiv—was arguably his best performance on the biggest platform in club football and crucial to the team’s success. Similar praise followed his game-winning goal against Barcelona in the 2014 Copa del Rey championship. Bale took up the ball at the midway point, ran past Marc Bartra, who had equalized, before running back onto the field to score the winning goal.
In Cardiff’s World Cup playoff semifinal against Austria in March of last year, he scored a spectacular double that helped Wales advance to the World Cup finals.
Gareth Bale continued:
“I am stepping back, but not away from the team that lives in me and runs through my veins.”
“After all, the dragon on my shirt is all I need.”
The Football Association of Wales chief executive, Noel Mooney, said:
“Diolch @GarethBale11 for everything you have given to Welsh football.”
“Simply the best.”
Three years after surpassing Ian Rush’s goalscoring record by tallying a hat-trick in China, Bale earned his 100th Wales cap at home against Belarus in November 2021. His final international goal came in a penalty shootout loss to the USA in Qatar in November, while his final domestic goal was a headed equalizer for LAFC in the 128th minute that helped the team win the Major League Soccer Cup earlier that month.
In 176 games with Madrid, Bale scored 81 goals, but the final three years of his nine-year stay were marred by injuries and scandal. After Wales qualified for Euro 2020, Bale celebrated by dancing around with a flag that read: “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that Order”.
Bale, who owns two golf bars and is rumored to play off scratch, was questioned about his passion for the game during the World Cup. Mentally, he says, “it’s always been a place for me to go away from the intensity of life and the pressure of football.” It’s a pleasant diversion from the busy schedule of a professional football player.
In Whitchurch, north Cardiff, where he grew up with his parents, Frank and Debbie, and sister, Vicky, Gareth Bale is recognized with a mural. Without your commitment during those early stages and without such a solid basis, Bale claimed, “I wouldn’t be writing this message right now. “A moment of transition and change, a chance for a new experience.”