Gareth Bale and LAFC announced on Monday Bale’s retirement as a professional player, following an 18-year career that wrapped up with a domestic double won in 2022 with LAFC.
Bale, 33, joined the black-and-gold last summer, and scored the legendary goal in the 128th minute of MLS Cup to take the final to a penalty shootout, where LAFC bettered the Philadelphia Union to lift their first MLS Cup title.
“We want to thank Gareth for everything he brought to our club,” LAFC co-president & general manager John Thorrington said in a team statement. “He arrived here with a goal to win championships in L.A., and, like he has done everywhere else in his career – he succeeded. It was an honor to have one of the most talented, dynamic and exciting players of his generation finish his career with a title for LAFC, and we wish Gareth, his wife Emma, and their family nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”
Bale was one of the most accomplished players of his generation and at one time the most expensive player in the world. Turning pro out of Southampton’s well-regarded academy, Bale moved to Tottenham and went from a young fullback who had loads of promise but hadn’t yet put it together, to eventually, a world-class player.
He then moved to Real Madrid where he saw his greatest run of his club career. All told, he won five Champions Leagues, three La Liga titles, and a Copa del Rey, scoring several unforgettable goals in big moments for the Merengues.
Of course, Bale finished a double champion with LAFC, winning the Supporters’ Shield and MLS Cup in 2022. Not bad for five months of work. Bale scored three goals for the black-and-gold in 13 appearances across all competitions.
Bale’s exploits were not exactly matched on the international stage but he arguably had a bigger impact there. When he debuted for Wales, they were thoroughly a minnow in UEFA and had no hope of qualifying for tournaments. His commitment to his country, coupled with an expansion of the European Championships, gave Wales their first shot at tournament football in generations, when they not only qualified for the 2016 Euros but reached the semifinals. In 2020, they returned to the Euros and again reached the knockouts with Bale leading the way, and he capped off his international run by leading the Welsh into the 2022 World Cup, their first World Cup appearance in 64 years.
We’ll have more on what this means for LAFC, but thanks for the contributions, Gareth — we’ll always have that goal — and best wishes on your future.
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