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Gareth Bale retires at the age of 33

Tim Howard and Robbie Mustoe recap an important game to cap Matchweek 19 after Manchester City earned a hard-fought win against Chelsea to dial up the pressure on Arsenal.

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

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The Welsh legend starred for Southampton, Tottenham, Real Madrid and Los Angeles Football Club during his 17-year career as he won five Champions League titles at Real and played 111 times for Wales.

Bale’s last game was a 3-0 defeat to England at the 2022 World Cup, where he captained Wales as they reached just their second-ever World Cup and their first tournament for 64 years. He was contracted to LAFC through the end of June 2023 but that agreement has ended early.

Given his struggles with fitness and form over the last few years perhaps this sudden retirement announcement shouldn’t be such a big surprise. But you still have to think that Bale had plenty of available options to continue his playing career.

His legacy

He will go down as one of the greatest players of his generation but there will be an asterisk next to his name given all of the unfortunate injury issues he suffered at Real Madrid over the years.

His pure talent and power was a joy to watch when he was flying down the left flank and there was a period at Tottenham from 2010-13 when he looked basically unstoppable.

When he was fit and in form, there were few players who could take a game by the scruff of the neck and score spectacular -- and often hugely important -- goals like Bale could.

He won trophies with Real Madrid and LAFC and dragged Wales to the semifinals of the EURO 2016 tournament and to the 2022 World Cup.

Most importantly, Bale put smiles on the faces of so many millions around the world with his incredible goals (Champions League final bicycle kick anyone?) and majestic runs and pinpoint passing accuracy.

What next?

In his retirement statement Bale said: “I move on with anticipation to the next stage of my life, a time of change and transition, an opportunity for a new adventure...”

Many will make jokes about the new adventure being about Bale pursuing a career as a professional golfer (you guys are hilarious) but it seems likely that Bale will stay in the game as a coach.

He is hugely passionate about Wales and perhaps his hometown club Cardiff City, or even his first club Southampton, would be a good starting spot for him. He would be out of the spotlight and could work as an assistant or as a youth coach and work his way up through the ranks.

That said, Bale probably needs a break. He has had a long career and it felt like the last five or six years in particular really ground him down as Real Madrid’s fans got on his back for his lengthy spells out with injuries.