Wales legend, Gareth Bale has confirmed his retirement from football at the age of 33.
The former Real Madrid and Tottenham winger called to an end to his illustrious career which saw him win five Champions Leagues, three LaLigas, and three Club World Cups.
Bale penned an emotional message on social media to bid farewell to the fans on Monday afternoon, January 9.
The former Tottenham Hotspur winger shared a message, where he refused to rule out working with the Wales national team in the future, which read: ‘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 couldnt have ever dreamed of when I first started out at 9 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.’
The winger posted a second message shortly after, addressed to Wales fans. He said: ‘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.’
Bale will retire as the nation’s top goalscorer and the most-capped player in Welsh history.