Gareth Bale: Cymru captain's retirement message to his 'Welsh family' in full

Bale is Wales' most-capped men's player with 111 appearances Credit: PA

Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from international football at the age of 33.

The Welsh captain, who took his country to their first World Cup in 64 years posted an emotional and heartfelt tribute to his fans on social media.

In a heartfelt statement, the captain said describing what it meant to play for Wales was impossible to articulate Credit: PA

Here it is in full:

To my Welsh family,

My decision to retire from international football has been by far the hardest of my career.

How do I describe what being 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 not changed 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 some unexpected and amazing places.

Gareth Bale began his career for Wales in 2006 Credit: PA

I shared a dressing room with boys that became my 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.

Together stronger.