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Wales’ Captain Gareth Bale Announces Retirement 'After Careful And Thoughtful Consideration'

At 33, the legendary winger steps away from a memorable career, forged over three decades. 

By Andrew Woodin
Gareth Bale of Wales disappointed during the World Cup match between Wales v England

All good things must come to an end.

In a genuine shock to the world of international football, Wales’ talisman Gareth Bale posted to his Twitter feed Monday that he is officially retiring, marking the culmination of his illustrious career that began in 2006.

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

"I feel incredibly fortunate to have realized my dream of playing the sport I love,” he continued. “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 flourished in a career that most footballers, past and present, could only dream of having. After finding form during his humble beginnings at Southampton in 2006, Bale earned a coveted spot on Tottenham’s roster just one year later. It was here where, under the innovative guidance of then manager Harry Redknapp, Bale made the transformative leap from being a sentinel on the back line to an aggressive left winger up top. His uncanny speed and commanding presence in tight oppositional windows cemented him as an integral weapon within the Hotspur attack.

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After leading a formidable campaign during the 2010-2011 UEFA Champions league, Bale earned the title of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Men’s Player of the Year in 2010 and 2013 in addition to being the named the PFA Young Player of the Year and Premier League Player of the Season in 2013.

As his talents continued to evolve, the world took note, and in 2013, he made the jump to Real Madrid, fetching what was then a world record-setting transfer fee of 100.8 million euros. While there, he, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema formed the insatiable three-headed monster that reigned supreme in La Liga for years, gobbling up in 2013-2014 both the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League titles before winning the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup the following year. Though hampered with sporadic injuries later in his career, he still managed to rack up a string of impressive accolades, collecting La Liga winners’ medals in 2016-2017 and 2019-2020 as well as three more consecutive Champions League titles between 2015-2018. After returning to Tottenham for the 2020-2021 season, where he picked up his fifth Champions League title, Bale crossed the pond the subsequent year to join Los Angeles FC in the MLS where he won the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup in 2022.

Despite his success in professional soccer across La Liga, the English Premier League, the Champions League and the MLS, he’s perhaps most revered for his time on the international footy scene with his native country Wales. In 2006, the Cardiff native became the youngest player to join the Dragons and went on to become Wales’ most capped player with 111 appearances as well as the country’s all-time top scorer with 41 goals. In a fitting swan song for the six-time Welsh Footballer of the Year, Bale played an instrumental role in propelling Wales to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, ending his homeland’s agonizing 64-year drought from playing in a World Cup.

"To show my gratitude to all of those that have played their part along this journey feels like an impossibility," Bale continued in his statement. "I feel indebted to many people for helping to change my life and shape my career in a way I couldn't ever have dreamed of when I first started out at nine-years-old.”

Thank you for all you have done for the sport, Mr. Bale. You will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

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