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Gareth Bale: Former Wales, Tottenham and Real Madrid forward retires from football aged 33

The former Tottenham and Real Madrid forward, who spent last season at LAFC in MLS, was part of Wales’ squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Bale has described the decision to quit international football as “by far the hardest of my career”.

“My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life, but who l am,” he added.

The Welshman won five Champions League titles and LaLiga three times at Real Madrid and is considered one of Britain’s greatest-ever football exports.

Bale wrote on social media: “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 nine 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 added: “To my Welsh family,

“My decision to retire from International football has been, by far the hardest of my career.

“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 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 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. 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 have been to unexpected and amazing places.

“I shared a dressing room with boys that became brothers, and back room staff that became family, I played for the most incredible managers, and felt the undying support and love from the most dedicated fans in the world. Thank you to every one of you for being on this journey with me.

“So for now I am stepping back, but not away from the team that lives in me and runs through my veins. After all, the dragon on my shirt is all I need.

“Together stronger, Diolch.”

Source: Sky Sports

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