Wales legend Gareth Bale has announced his retirement at the age of 33.
Bale confirmed his decision in a statement on Instagram on Monday, saying he has taken an “opportunity for a new adventure.”
The former Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Los Angeles FC forward called time on a 17-year playing career, in which his honours included three LaLiga titles, the Champions League five times and the Club World Cup on three occasions.
Bale’s final appearance came in 3-0 defeat to England as Wales were knocked out of the group stage of the World Cup in Qatar.
He posted on Instagram: “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. 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.
“From my very first touch at Southampton to my last with LAFC and everything in between, shaped a club career that I have an immense pride and gratitude for. Playing for and captaining my country 111 times has truly been a dream come true.
“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 9 years old.
“To my previous clubs, Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and finally LAFC. All of my previous managers and coaches, back room staff, team-mates, all the dedicated fans, my agents, my amazing friends and family, the impact you have had is immeasurable.
“My parents and my sister, without your dedication in those early days, without such a strong foundation, I wouldn’t be writing this statement right now, so thank you for putting me on this path and for your unwavering support.
“My wife and my children, your love and support has carried me through. Right beside me for all the highs and lows, keeping me grounded along the way. You inspire me to be better, and to make you proud.
“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…”
Bale began his career at Southampton before moving to Tottenham, where he spent six seasons and won two PFA Players’ Player of the Year awards.
His exploits with Spurs earned him a blockbuster move to Madrid in 2013 for a reported fee of £77million (€91m).
Despite suffering injury issues and often struggling to emerge from Cristiano Ronaldo’s shadow, Bale enjoyed some huge highs at the Santiago Bernabeu, including a spectacular winner in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, putting Los Blancos ahead against Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final and scoring twice against Liverpool to win the 2018 Champions League final.
Being pictured with a flag while on international duty that read ‘Wales, golf, Madrid. In that order’ did not go down well with Madrid fans and Bale continued to suffer with injuries.
He left for a spell in Major League Soccer last June, winning the MLS Cup with LAFC on penalties after he equalised in the final against Philadelphia Union in the 128th minute.
Bale starred on the international stage, leading Wales to an improbable run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 as captain, as well as playing a key role in their qualification for the 2022 World Cup, the first they had participated in since 1958.
He finished his international career with 41 goals in 111 caps.
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