Long-time international soccer star Gareth Bale officially announced his retirement Monday after 18 seasons of playing at the sport's highest level.
Bale, 33, played in English Premier League for Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur, La Liga for Real Madrid and one year in the MLS for Los Angeles FC. He also made 111 appearances for his home country of Wales, which included two UEFA Euro tournaments as well as the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
"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," Bale wrote in a statement on Twitter. "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 9 years old."
Bale began his professional career at the age of 16 for Southampton, where he scored five goals in 40 appearances. He signed with Tottenham two seasons later at the age of 18 where he scored 42 goals in 146 appearances from 2007-13. Bale left Tottenham for Real Madrid in 2013 on a then-record transfer deal of £85.3 million ($104 million) and scored 81 goals in 176 appearances for the La Liga club. He returned to Tottenham in 2020 on a one-year loan and scored 11 times in 20 appearances. Bale finished up his career with Los Angeles this past season where he scored two goals in 12 appearances.
Bale won seven club titles during his career: three La Liga titles with Real Madrid in 2016, 2019 and 2022; five UEFA Champions League titles with Real Madrid from 2016-18 and 2022; and one MLS Cup in 2022. Bale concluded his club career with an incredible game-tying header for LAFC in extra time that helped the team win the title on penalty kicks.
As for his international career, Bale tallied 41 goals in 111 appearances for Wales, including a penalty kick score against the United States in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup.