Gareth Bale, the former Wales, Tottenham Hotspur, and Real Madrid forward, has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 33.
Bale has described the decision to quit international football as “by far the hardest of my career”.
“My international journey has changed not only my life, but also who I am,” he added.
At Real Madrid, he won five Champions League titles and three La Liga titles, and he is regarded as one of Britain’s greatest-ever football exports.
Speech from Gareth Bale
“I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football after careful and thoughtful consideration,” Bale said.
“I consider myself extremely fortunate to have realized my dream of playing the sport I adore. It has truly provided me with some of the most memorable experiences of my life. No matter what the next chapter has in store for me, the highest of highs over 17 seasons will be impossible to replicate.
“From my first touch at Southampton to my final with LAFC, and everything in between, shaped a club career for which I am immensely proud and grateful. Playing for and captaining my country 111 times has been a lifelong dream.
“It feels impossible to express my gratitude to everyone who has contributed to this journey. I am grateful to many people for helping to change my life and shape my career in ways I could never have imagined when I first started out at the age of nine.
“To my previous clubs, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid, and finally Los Angeles FC. All of my previous managers and coaches, backroom staff, team mates, all of the devoted fans, my agents, my incredible friends and family, your contributions have been 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.
“Thank you for your love and support, my wife and children. All the highs and lows, he was right there with me, keeping me grounded. You motivate me to do better and make you proud.
“As a result, I look forward to the next stage of my life. A time of transition and change, an opportunity for a new adventure.”
More about Bale’s retirement speech
Bale continued, “To my Welsh family,
“My decision to retire from International football has been, by far the hardest of my career. Or “how do I describe what being a part of this country and team means to me?
Or how do I articulate the impact it has had on my life? How do I put in to 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 everyone partaking in Welsh football feels the magic. As well as impacted in such a powerful and unique way, so I know you feel what I feel even if you don’t say anything.
“My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life but who I am. Being Welsh and being chosen to represent and captain Wales provided me with an experience unlike any other. I am honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to contribute to the history of this amazing country, to have felt the red wall’s support and passion. And to have traveled with them to unexpected and amazing places.
“I shared a dressing room with boys who became brothers and backroom staff who became family. I played for incredible managers, and I felt the unwavering support and love of the world’s most devoted fans. Thank you to everyone who has joined me on this journey.
“So, for the time being, I’m taking a step back, but not away from the team that lives in me and runs through my veins. After all, the dragon on my shirt suffices.
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