Euro 2020 Special

Gareth Bale Retires From Football; Welsh Legend Calls It a Day

In a surprise announcement, Gareth Bales, one of the finest footballers ever to pull on a Welsh shirt, has decided to retire from football at the age of 33 years old.

It means that his last competitive appearance was playing for his country in the Qatar World Cup, although that did not finish so well for his team, beaten by their British rivals England.


English career

Bale began his career with Southampton, where he operated as a left-back who was renowned for taking free kicks. That earned him a move to Tottenham, but, initially that did not go so well for him, and it took him 25 matches before he appeared in the winning side for them.

However, when he was converted into a winger, his career really took off, and he established a reputation for himself as one of the best attacking talents in Europe.


Real Madrid

In 2013 Real Madrid bought Bale for what was then a world record fee at the time of £85 million, and he signed a six year deal with them.

In his first season in Spain he helped them win the Champions League for the tenth time, and he scored one of the goals as they beat neighbours Atlético in the final.

During his time with Real, the team won five Champions League trophies and three league titles, and he scored more than 100 goals for them. Among the highlights was an individual goal from his own half in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona in 2014, and his stunning overhead kick against Liverpool, in the 2018 Champions League final.


Souring of the relationship

Despite all that he achieved in Spain, the relationship between player and club began to sour over time. A series of injuries kept him out of the team for a while, and, in his absence a change of formation by the manager at the time, Zinedine Zidane, meant that his previous role became marginalised.

Bale found himself increasingly on the bench, and seemed to prefer playing golf more than football, much to the annoyance of some Real fans who resented the huge salary that he continued to be paid.

Meanwhile, Zidane, who had left the club, returned, and the pair personal chemistry continued to go from bad to worse.

In the 2020 – 2021 season he returned to Tottenham on loan, but he was unable to capture past glories in North London, and his 20 appearances that campaign saw him score just the once.

He returned to Real in time to collect his fifth Champions League medal, although he played very little in that campaign, before departing for the MLS.

By the time he left the Bernabeu he was unloved by the club’s fans – he once famously listed his passions in order Wales, Golf, Madrid – but they would do well to remember the contribution that he made for them when he first arrived.



In July of last year he joined LAFC, and helped them win the Supporters Cup, and then reach the MLS Cup Final. And, he ensured legendary status by coming off the bench to score the equaliser in injury time of extra time against Philadelphia Union, which forced the match to a penalty shoot-out that LA subsequently won.

LA were expecting him back this season, so they would have been surprised as anybody by his announcement.



Bale won 18 trophies during his time with Madrid, including three Club World Cups.

Six times Welsh Player of the Year, he was also twice named by UEFA in their Team of the Year, and, during his time with Spurs, was named both Players; Player of the Year, and Premier League Player of the Season.

He was awarded an MBE in 2022.


A Big Miss for Wales

Arguably the team that will miss Bale the most is Wales. He was not only the captain, but the best player in the side, and the one man capable of finding the one moment of magic to win tight games.

They do not have anybody remotely as good coming through the ranks, and, without his presence in the side, their regular appearances in international tournaments in recent years could soon become a thing of the past.


Bale became Wales’ youngest ever player when he made his debut for them in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago in 2006, when he was just short of his 17th birthday. He would go on to play for them 111 times, and scored 41 goals, an all-time national record.

He captained the side in their first European Championship in 2016, where they reached the semi-finals, and helped them qualify for Euro 2020.

Then he helped them reach the World Cup in Qatar for the first time since 1958.

After that defeat to England he had vowed to keep playing for the national team, but has since had a change of mind.




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