Former Real Madrid and Wales star Gareth Bale has retired from professional football aged 33.
Bale announced his retirement in a lengthy statement published on his Twitter handle on Monday.
The former Tottenham Hotspur forward, who spent last season at LAFC in MLS, was part of Wales’ squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
He won five Champions League titles and LaLiga three times at Madrid.
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.
“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 was 16 years and 315 days old when he became the youngest player to play for Wales on May 27, 2006.
He became Wales’ youngest ever goal scorer on October 7, 2006 – scoring against Slovakia in a Euro 2008 qualifier with a trademark free-kick.
He became the first Wales player to score at a major international tournament for 58 years with his swerving free-kick against Slovakia.
Also, Bale became the first Wales player to score at a World Cup for 64 years in Qatar. The previous goal had been scored by Terry Medwin against Hungary at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.
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