Viewed as Real Madrid’s most underrated player in history, the Wales captain has now hung up his boots
Five-time Champions League winner and Welsh football idol Gareth Bale has retired at the age of 33, leaving a glittering football resume.
Announcing his retirement on his social media channels, the former Real Madrid, Tottenham, Southampton, and Los Angeles FC footballer has anointed his decision “an opportunity for a new adventure.”
“After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” Bale wrote.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love. To show my gratitude to all 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 9 years old. So, I move on with anticipation to the next stage of my life. A time of change and transition, an opportunity for a new adventure.”
Making his name in Tottenham, the footballer started his career in England with Southampton torching the start of a victorious journey.
Respectively known to be a part of Real Madrid’s golden generation with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos, and several others, Bale executed just about everything possible with the club.
A central figure in one of Madrid’s most successful eras, the Welshman hit a figure of 106 strikes in his 258 appearances.
With his time in Madrid, Bale clutched five Champions League trophies, four league titles, a pair of domestic cups, and a host of player of the year awards for his performances.
Notably known for his bicycle kick against Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final, the footballer then took his talents to Major League Soccer in the US.
Joining LAFC last June after leaving the Spanish powerhouse, the footballer steered the team to winning their 2022 MLS Cup.
“We want to thank Gareth for everything he brought to our club,” LAFC co-president & general manager John Thorrington said in a release.
“He arrived here with a goal to win championships in LA, and, like he has done everywhere else in his career – he succeeded. It was an honor to have one of the most talented, dynamic, and exciting players of his generation finish his career with a title for LAFC, and we wish Gareth, his wife Emma, and their family nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”
Bale’s contribution to his country made history as he led Wales to its first World Cup in 64 years.
Despite the team’s early exit, Bales dubs his farewell with the Welsh as the hardest of his career.
“My decision to retire from international football has been by far the hardest of my career,” Bale said in a separate post dedicated to his country.
“How do I describe what being a part of this country and team means to me? How do I articulate the impact it has had on my life? How do I put into words the way I felt every single time I put on that Welsh shirt? My answer is that I couldn’t possibly do any of those things justice simply with words.”
“But I know that every person involved in Welsh football feels the magic and is impacted in such a powerful and unique way, so I know you feel what I feel without using any words at all.”
“My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life but who I am. The fortune of being Welsh and being selected to play for and captain Wales has given me something incomparable to anything else I’ve experienced.”
However, the Welshman is not the only footballer to hang his boots after the World Cup.
France’s Lloris retires from international duty
Weeks after France was beaten by Argentina on penalties in the 2022 World Cup final, Hugo Lloris has now publicised his retirement from international football.
Aged 36, Lloris captained his country to a World Cup victory in 2018 Russia.
“I’ve decided to stop my international career, with the feeling that I have given everything,” Lloris told the French publication L’Equipe.
“I think it is important to announce this now, two-and-a-half months before the start of Euro qualifying,” the Frenchman added.
Captaining the squad in a record of 121 appearances, Lloris’s decision was made post the Qatar World Cup.
“I have really been thinking about it since the end of the World Cup, but there has been something deep inside of me for maybe six months now and which grew during the competition, leading me to make this decision,” he said.
“There comes a time when you need to step aside. I have always said the French national team does not belong to any one person,” added Lloris.
“There is a goalkeeper who is ready [AC Milan’s Mike Maignan], and I need a bit more time for me, for my family, and for my children.”
To have been the France goalkeeper for 14-and-a-half seasons is a big deal, but it is also mentally exhausting, and I hope clearing some time for myself will allow me to keep playing at the highest level for a few more years.”