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Gareth Bale announces retirement from professional soccer

Gareth Bale retires

LAFC forward Gareth Bale has retired from professional soccer after an esteemed 18-year career, the Welsh superstar announced Monday.

Bale, 33, joined LAFC last June after leaving Spanish powerhouse side Real Madrid. He scored one of the most memorable goals in MLS history, a towering extra-time header that sent the Black & Gold into penalty kicks for their eventual MLS Cup 2022 victory.

“We want to thank Gareth for everything he brought to our club,” LAFC co-president & general manager John Thorrington said in a release. “He arrived here with a goal to win championships in LA, 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, one of the highest-profile players in MLS history, scored three goals in 13 total appearances for LAFC. He also helped them win the Supporters’ Shield, becoming the eighth MLS team to complete that single-season double.

Once the most-expensive player transfer in the world when moving from Tottenham to Real Madrid, Bale won an outstanding 21 trophies throughout a club career that started at Southampton. His silverware cabinet includes five UEFA Champions League titles.

This winter, Bale captained Wales to their first FIFA World Cup appearance in 64 years and he retires as the Dragons’ all-time leader in appearances (111) and goals (40). Bale, after Wales' Group B exit in Qatar, said he aimed to participate in the 2024 Euros. But plans changed.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have realized my dream of playing the sport I love,” Bale wrote on his official channels. “It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest of highs over 17 seasons, that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.”

With Bale’s departure, LAFC will certainly have an open Designated Player spot to use for the 2023 season alongside forwards Carlos Vela and Denis Bouanga. Bale was on a guaranteed deal through the summer, then he reportedly became a DP if a contract option was exercised.

LAFC are entering their second season under head coach Steve Cherundolo and start their title defense Feb. 25 against the LA Galaxy in a season-opening El Trafico at the Rose Bowl (9:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).