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Five of the most iconic Gareth Bale moments

Gareth Bale: Real Madrid, Tottenham and Wales legend announces retirement from football

The footballing world is paying tribute to the career of one of the greatest British footballers of all time, after Gareth Bale announced his retirement at the age of 33.

Bale enjoyed a storied career in both England and Spain, winning the Champions League an incredible five times during his stint with Real Madrid, as well as La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

He also led Wales to their first major tournaments since 1958 when they qualified for Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup.

Bale began his career after graduating from the Southampton academy and played his first game for the south coast side at the age of 16. While playing as a left back, he developed a reputation as a goal scorer and free kick specialist, earning him a move to Tottenham in 2007.

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There, he developed into one of the best players in the league, racking up 55 goals for the north London side, culminating in the 21-goal 2012-13 season which saw him emerge as one of the brightest talents in the division.

His move to Real Madrid saw him team up with Cristiano Ronaldo as part of one of the strongest Madrid sides of all time.

Bale, who once famously ranked his priorities as “Wales, golf, Madrid” at the end of his time in Spain, now has a lot of time on his hands to work on his swing – and look back on an incredible career.

Here’s our pick of Bale’s five most iconic moments on the pitch.

Wales vs England at Euro 2016

[Euro 2016] Gareth Bale vs England - Amazing Free Kick Goal - England 2-1 Wales.www.youtube.com

Bale has been Wales’s talisman over the past decade, guiding his country to two major tournaments and making them a sustained presence on the international stage. Chris Coleman’s side were debutants at Euro 2016, and were buoyed by Bale’s late winner against Belgium in the last game of qualifying to secure their place at the tournament.

When they lined up against England in the group stages, Bale produced a moment of outstanding individual skill to smash home a freekick from 40 yards. The game would end up going against Wales, but for a moment anything felt possible for millions of Wales supporters watching from home. Wales would go on to progress to the quarter-finals, and that day Bale gave them a moment that will live in their hearts for an awfully long time.

Tottenham vs West Ham in 2013

Gareth Bale v West Ham 2013 - West Ham 2-3 Tottenhamwww.youtube.com

Any number of goals from Bale’s time in the premier league could have made this list, from his superb volley against Stoke to his curling effort against Sunderland. But no other goal summed up just how unstoppable Bale was back in the 2012-13 season than his winner in a constantly evolving 3-2 away win against West Ham.

After being bundled to the ground in the dying moments of the game, Bale picked himself up and called for the ball. Taking one look up and not seeing much on, he picked his spot miles out from goal and sent it past Jussi Jaaskelainen from what seemed like an impossible distance.

It was no surprise to anyone after goals like this that Real Madrid snapped him up for £85 million that summer.

Real Madrid vs Barcelona – Copa Del Rey final 2014

Real Madrid vs Barcelona (2-1) 2014 Copa del rey Final - Gareth Bale's incredible Goalwww.youtube.com

With Real Madrid’s leading man Cristiano Ronaldo out of the game, it was all down to Bale in the Copa Del Rey final back in 2014.

The match was finely poised at 1-1 in the final few minutes of the game when Bale unleashed the kind of run that terrorised defenders in the early 2010s, pushing the ball past Marc Bartra and setting off on a wide angle off the pitch before racing through and poking the ball home to secure victory for Madrid. If ever there was a showcase of Bale’s explosive pace, composure and big-game mentality, this was it.

Tottenham vs Inter Milan – 2010

Gareth Bale, Inter Milan v Tottenham (2010) Champions League classic displayswww.youtube.com

The game that made Gareth Bale?

The early years of Bale at Tottenham were mired in mediocrity. The Welshman only managed six goals in his first three seasons in north London, but by the time Spurs met Inter Milan in October 2010, Bale was marking himself out as a top player. The English side was 4-0 down inside the San Siro when Bale took it upon himself to make a difference. Picking up the ball on the left flank, the winger singlehandedly set up a breathless finish by sending right back Maicon spinning with a direct run, before finding the net from a tight angle.

He then added a second in a similar fashion, before drilling home a third to secure a hattrick against one of the best defences in Europe at the time. The Inter players were relieved the hear the final whistle blow with the game at 4-3, but despite the result, Bale had sealed his status as a world-class talent.

Real Madrid vs Liverpool – Champions League final 2018

Gareth Bale scores the BEST EVER GOAL in a Champions League final with overhead kick vs Liverpoolwww.youtube.com

In his pomp, Bale was both a great goalscorer and a scorer of great goals, and it doesn’t get much more audacious than nailing an overhead kick in the Champions League final.

Bale never shied away from the biggest stage as a player, and his crowning moment came when Real Madrid defeated Liverpool in one of the most memorable finals in recent years. The ball was stood up pretty poorly to the edge of the box by Marcelo in the second half, and just as fans thought the danger had abated, Bale leapt into the air and planted the ball into the top corner, giving Loris Karius in the Liverpool goal no chance whatsoever.

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