Gareth Bale announces his retirement from club and international football
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Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from club and international football at the age of 33.
The former Southampton, Spurs and Real Madrid forward, who joined MLS side LAFC last summer on a 12-month contract, released a statement on his official Twitter page confirming the news.
He wrote: "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.”
You can see the full statement below.
He wrote: "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 backroom 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 enjoyed a trophy-laden 17-year career in football that featured five Champions Leagues and three La Liga titles.
After coming through the youth ranks at Southampton, he became the second youngest player ever to play for the Saints at the age of 16 years and 275 days.
The 33-year-old would end his career by scoring a 127th-minute goal for LAFC in their MLS Cup win against Philadelphia.
After the full-time whistle, an elated Bale said: "The reason why I came here was to try and help the club win the MLS Cup.
"You can see how happy everybody is now, the fans, the city. It's important for this club to go to the next level, and I think by winning this trophy, it shows that we are.
"It's a club really on the rise doing the right things and it's an important trophy for us, especially the first one, first major trophy, and hopefully there's more to come in the future."
Let us know your favourite Gareth Bale memory in the comments. A true great of the game.