Wales captain Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from football at the age of 33 after a glittering career.
The nation’s most-capped male player and record men’s goalscorer announced his decision on social media.
Bale, a five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, is arguably Wales’ finest ever footballer.
“After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football,” Bale said.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love.”
Cardiff-born Bale’s club career took him from Southampton to Tottenham Hotspur and a world record transfer to Spanish giants Real before his move to Major League Soccer club Los Angeles FC in June 2022.
He was his country’s talisman as they reached the 2016 and 2020 European Championships before he led Wales at their first World Cup since 1958 at Qatar 2022, ending his international career with 41 goals in 111 appearances.
Bale was twice named footballer of the year while at Tottenham, in 2010-11 and 2012-13, and moved to Real for what was then a world-record fee of more than £80m in September 2013.
During his time in the Spanish capital, Bale helped Real win three league titles and five Champions League titles – a number no other British player has matched – along with three Club World Cups, three Uefa Super Cups and a Spanish cup.
“It [football] has truly given me some of the best moments of my life,” added Bale.
“The highest of highs over 17 seasons,that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.”
“To show my gratitude to all of those that have played their part along this journey feels like an impossibility,” Bale said.
“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, backroom 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 the 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 in transition and opportunity for a new adventure.”
5 x Champions League
4 x FIFA Club World Cup
3 x La Liga
3 x UEFA Super Cup
3 x Spanish Super Cup
1 x Spanish Cup
1 x English League Cup
1 x MLS Cup
— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) January 9, 2023