Gareth Bale makes emotional farewell to Wales fans
Gareth Bale paid an emotional farewell to Wales fans on Tuesday night, after addressing the home crowd at the Cardiff City Stadium.
Rob Page’s side will take on Latvia in their Euro 2024 qualifier and, ahead of kick-off, supporters were treated to a message from the country’s record goalscorer.
Bale immediately retired from football in January after sharing a lengthy post onto his social media accounts.
‘I just want to say, obviously, what an honour it has been to represent this country and play in front of the best fans in the world,’ Bale said.
‘You’ve supported me and my family and all the team through the lows and the highs and I can’t thank you enough.
Gareth Bale made an emotional address to Wales fans ahead of their Euro 2024 qualifier
Bale took to the pitch at the Cardiff City Stadium to say goodbye to the national team fans
The 33-year-old retired from domestic and international football in January this year
‘Honestly, it’s been the biggest pleasure playing in front of you for my whole career. Obviously I’m going to miss playing in front of you but make sure you keep supporting the boys.
‘You, the fans, are Welsh football. You make it so special. You make it what it is today. I’ll be cheering on, just like you lot. Hopefully see you soon in the future!’
The 33-year-old – who played for Southampton, Tottenham, Madrid and Los Angeles FC – called an end to both his domestic and international playing career in January.
Bale retired as the nation’s top goalscorer, 41 goals, and the most capped player, 111 appearances, in Welsh history.
Former Wales striker Nathan Blake, speaking on BBC Radio Wales, was full of praise for Bale, as he said: ‘Gareth Bale is one of the best players in the world we have got to that our lucky starts that he’s welsh and we had him.
‘Life after Gareth Bale is always going to difficult, you don’t replace world class players like that with a click of your fingers.’
Bale’s affection for the Welsh national side was clear throughout his playing career and jokes were often made of his preferences to play international football.
Bale insisted it was the ‘biggest pleasure’ to play in front of the Welsh fans in his career
He recently helped them qualify for the World Cup for just the second time in their history and became the first Welsh player to score in the competition since 1958.
Upon retiring earlier this year, Bale wrote a message that said: ‘To my Welsh family… 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 in to 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.
Bale scored one goal for Wales during the Qatar World Cup – a penalty against the USA
‘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.’
Source of data and images: dailymail