Wales footballer Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from club and international football.
The former Real Madrid man made his national team debut in 2006 and has been a vital part of the side since. Bale has played 111 matches for the senior team and scored 40 times.
He also represented the national team at the youth level for under a year. He made swift progress from his U17 debut in August 2005 to his U21 debut in May 2006 - just 11 days before his senior debut.
In his senior club career, Bale started with Southampton in 2006, before moving to Tottenham Hotspur a year later. The Welshman became the then-world record transfer when he joined Real Madrid for €100 million in 2013.
He went on to win the UEFA Champions League five times with Los Blancos and added three La Liga medals too, among other honors.
Gareth Bale last played for Los Angeles FC in Major League Soccer after running down his contract at Real Madrid in the summer of 2022.
Gareth Bale releases statement to announce his retirement
Gareth Bale posted an emotional message for Welsh fans following his retirement, which read:
"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."
Gareth Bale expressed his gratitude for the support he received from the Welsh fans, as he said:
"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."
Bale also thanked his teammates and managers during his time with the national side:
"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."
Gareth Bale's last match was against England at the FIFA World Cup when his side lost 3-0 in the group stage clash.