Gareth Bale says he will stop playing professional football. At the age of 33, Gareth Bale has decided to end his professional football career. Bale made the unexpected announcement on his social media pages on Monday.
It’s the end of an era for Bale, who was a legend on the pitch for Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, and Los Angeles FC, not to mention one of the all-time greats from Wales.
After “considerable reflection,” Bale said, “I announce my immediate retirement from the club and international football.”
“I know how lucky I am to be able to pursue my passion and make a living doing what I love. Some of the most memorable experiences of my life have come from this. No matter what the future holds, I will never be able to top the highs I experienced throughout 17 seasons.”
When Bale first entered the professional league, he played for Southampton. He impressed enough there that Tottenham signed him in May 2007. When he first joined Spurs, he was playing left back. However, he was quickly moved to the left side of the team’s attacking line and quickly became one of the best players in the world.
Bale signed a six-year contract with Real Madrid in September 2013 for a then-record fee of €100 million, following a string of individual awards for his play with the Premier League club.
Bale was a significant success in Spain, winning three La Liga championships, one Copa del Rey championship, and five Champions Leagues (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2022). Despite being frozen out in the final years of his Madrid contract, he provided some historical moments for Los Blancos, including a stunning overhead kick in their 3-1 win over Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final.
At the end of his time in Madrid, he returned to Spurs for the 2020-21 season on loan. He returned to Madrid for a final season before signing a one-year contract with LAFC in June 2022.
In the United States, he made 14 appearances, the highlight of which was a header in the 128th minute of extra time in the MLS Cup final that helped LAFC tie the game 3-3 against Philadelphia Union. As a result, the match went to a penalty shootout, where LAFC ultimately prevailed to win their first major championship.
To express my appreciation to everyone who has helped me on this path would be impossible, Bale continued. “I owe a great deal of gratitude to the numerous people who contributed to making my life and profession into something I would never have imagined when I first began out when I was nine years old.
The influence of my past teams, Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid, and LAFC, as well as my managers, coaches, backroom staff, teammates, all the devoted supporters, my agents, and my fantastic friends and family, is immense.
Bale’s final game was a 3-0 loss to England in the 2022 World Cup, where he won his 111th and final cap for Wales. He led the team there as captain and included a special message to his “Welsh family” in his retirement announcement.
He retires from the Welsh national team as the all-time leader in both appearances (111), and goals (41) scored. During his tenure, the squad advanced to the semifinals of Euro 2016, and he also led them to their first World Cup appearance since 1958. He will lead them again in Euro 2020 and the most recent World Cup.
Bale reflected on how his experiences on the global stage had altered not only his life but his identity. “Being born and raised in Wales and having the opportunity to represent my country as a player and captain has given me a unique and unforgettable perspective on life.
“I am honored and humbled to have been a small cog in this wonderful country’s history, to have felt the support and passion of the red wall, and to have traveled to unexpected and amazing locations with you.”
Bale has been mysterious about his plans. I look forward to the next chapter of my life,” he said in his retirement letter. “A season of transformation, ripe with possibilities for fresh experiences.”
He promises to keep a close watch on his Wales team no matter what shape his new journey takes.
Now I am taking a step back, but I will never turn my back on the team that is a part of my being. “A dragon on my shirt is all the proof I need,” he said.