Wales captain Gareth Bale announces retirement from professional football

  • Wales Manager Rob Page and former footballer Neil Taylor pay tribute to Gareth Bale.

Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from professional football.

Bale, Wales' most-capped men's player with 111 appearances, wrote on Instagram: "After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football.

He added "playing for and captaining my country 111 times has truly been a dream come true."

Read the statement to his "Welsh family" in full.

Last year, the 33-year-old led his country to the World Cup in Qatar where he scored the team's first goal in 64 years.

The Cardiff-born star called time on a trophy laden 16-year career and leaves the game as his country's record goalscorer.

Bale won the Champions League five times with Real Madrid and is arguably Wales' greatest footballer.

He described the decision to quit international football as "by far the hardest of my career".

"My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life, but who l am," he added.

Residents in Whitchurch in Cardiff, where Bale grew up and went to school reacted to the news on Monday.

One said he was "mortified" by the news. "He held the baton for Wales so now it's someone else to pick up the torch."

Another said, "What a fantastic servant for his country... thank you very much Gareth - diolch yn fawr iawn.

The Wales Twitter account posted a five-minute video of some of the star’s most memorable moments playing for his country along with the words “Diolch am bopeth, Gareth Bale” which translates to “Thank you for everything”.

Bale began his career as a sixteen year-old at Southampton before transferring to Tottenham in 2007. He made his name in north London- being named as the PFA player of the year in 2013.

After his successful time in England, Cardiff-born Bale then became the World's most expensive player ever when he gained a move to Real Madrid for £85 million.

During his time in Madrid Bale become one of the most decorated Welsh footballers of all time. He won 19 trophies during his time at the club, including three Spanish league titles.

Credit: PA

Tributes for the Welsh star flooded in following the announcement. Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said, "Diwrnod trist. A sad day but also one to celebrate a true Welsh great.""You showed us what we could achieve, and made our dreams a reality.

"Ti wedi rhoi Cymru ar y map. Diolch am bopeth Gareth."

The FAW's chief executive Noel Mooney said, "Diolch @GarethBale11 for everything you have given to Welsh football. Simply the best".