Wales captain Gareth Bale retires from football aged 33
Wales captain Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from football at the age of 33 after a glittering career.
The nation's most-capped men's player with 111 appearances announced his decision on social media.
Bale, a five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, is arguably Wales' finest ever footballer.
"After careful and thoughtful consideration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and international football," Bale said.
"I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love."
Cardiff-born Bale's club career took him from Southampton to Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid before his move to Los Angeles.
He was his country's talisman as they reached the 2016 and 2020 Euros before he led Wales at their first World Cup since 1958 at Qatar 2022.
Wales went out of the tournament at the group stage, with their loss to England proving to be the final appearance of Bale's career.
It was not a fitting end for a player who achieved extraordinary feats with club and country.
"It (football) has truly given me some of the best moments of my life," added Bale.
"The highest of highs over 17 seasons, that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me."
Bale joined Southampton as a schoolboy and made his debut for the Saints as a 16-year-old in April 2006.
His first senior cap followed a matter of weeks later, making Bale Wales' youngest international - although that record has since been broken.
That marked the start of a Wales career in which Bale inspired his country to the best spell in their history.
Having ended a 58-year wait for a major tournament appearance by qualifying for Euro 2016, Wales produced a sensational run to the semi-finals, only losing to eventual winners Portugal.
They also made it to the knockout stages of the next European Championship before last summer's play-off final win over Ukraine saw Wales clinch their long-awaited return to the World Cup.https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/64214855