Former Real Madrid star Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from international football. Bale has one of the greatest Welsh players in history and led the Dragons to an incredible Euros 2016 campaign. He also captained the Wales national team in the recently concluded FIFA World Cup 2022.
The Welsh team had a tumultuous World Cup campaign in Qatar and ended with a group-stage finish. In his international career, Bale has earned 111 caps and scored 41 international goals, making him Wales' most-capped player and top goalscorer of all time.
Bale announced his retirement via Instagram, where he released an emotional statement. The note said, "My decision to retire from International football has been, by far the hardest of my career. How do I describe what being a 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 into 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 changed not 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 to unexpected and amazing places."
"I shared a dressing room with boys that became brothers, and back room 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."