LONDON: Wales and Los Angeles FC winger Gareth Bale said on Monday he had decided to end his playing career at the age of 33.
Bale played a Wales record of 111 games for his country and was a five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid. He helped the Welsh reach the 2016 and 2020 Euros before leading them to their first World Cup since 1958 at Qatar 2022.
“After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from the club and international football,” Bale said on Twitter.
“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.”
Bale started his senior career at then-Championship side Southampton, which introduced the 17-year-old to professional football before he moved to Tottenham Hotspur two years later.
After six seasons in the Premier League, Bale was signed by Real Madrid for a fee reported by British media as a world record of 100 million euros ($107.45 million).
“From my very first touch at Southampton to my last with LAFC and everything in between, shaped a club career that I have immense pride and gratitude for,” Bale added.
“Playing for and captaining my country 111 times has truly been a dream come true.”
The player released a separate statement to bid farewell to the Welsh fans and team, saying his decision to retire from international football had been “by far the hardest of my career.”
“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.
“I am honoured and humbled to have been able to play a part in the history of this incredible country, to have felt the support and passion of the red wall, and together (we) have been too unexpected and amazing places.
“I shared a dressing room with boys that became brothers, and backroom staff that became family.”