LAFC forward Gareth Bale has quelled speculation that he plans to retire after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, affirming he aims to participate in the 2024 Euros.
Wales’ captain delivered that update after they lost 3-0 to England midweek in Qatar, eliminated from contention by finishing bottom of Group B. The Dragons start Euro qualifiers in March against Croatia.
“I'll keep going as long as I can and as long as I'm wanted," Bale told BBC Sport. "It’s a difficult moment now obviously but we go again.”
Bale is considered Wales’ greatest-ever player, with his 41 goals and 111 appearances both program highs. He’s part of a golden generation, bringing Wales to their first World Cup in 64 years and a semifinal run at the 2016 Euros.
Wales manager Rob Page seems keen to include Bale in their plans, even if the 33-year-old has battled fitness and injury issues in recent seasons.
"I don't think it will be the last time you see Gareth in a Wales jersey," Page said after the England defeat.
Bale arrived at LAFC in June and he’s under contract with the Black & Gold through next summer, with options through 2024. He played in just 13 games (two starts) across all competitions, but delivered an all-time moment in MLS Cup, scoring a powerful extra-time header that sent the 3-3 match vs. Philadelphia Union into penalty kicks. The hosts eventually won, adding a second trophy to their Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign.
Bale’s propensity for big moments again surfaced at the World Cup, as his late PK against the United States was Wales’ only goal of the tournament and sealed a 1-1 draw. He played five of six halves in the group stage, before getting subbed out at halftime against England while dealing with hamstring tightness.
Wales weren’t favorites in the World Cup, but Bale still hoped for me.
“We are bitterly disappointed. We wish we could have played better. We wish we could have done a great tournament,” Bale said. “But football is difficult and I think we also need to realize we have come a long way in qualifying for this World Cup.”
At least for now, Bale doesn’t seem ready to call it quits on a career where he’s reached superstar status via time in Europe with Tottenham and Real Madrid. His health will be a continued concern, though LAFC manager Steve Cherundolo has ably navigated that so far.
LAFC are planning for a Feb. 25 opener against the LA Galaxy at the Rose Bowl, reprising El Trafico to start the 2023 MLS campaign. And there are Concacaf Champions League games ahead; a Round of 16 series against Costa Rican side Alajuelense awaits in March.