Real Madrid honour 'one of the club's great legends' Gareth Bale

Real Madrid hail Gareth Bale as ‘one of the club’s great legends’ after his shock retirement on Monday with Los Blancos keen to show ‘gratitude, admiration and affection’ to their former star despite his popularity waning in final years

  • Follow all the action LIVE as Gareth Bale announces his professional retirement
  • Bale has hung up his boots just six weeks after leading Wales to the World Cup
  • Welsh legend John Hartson led the tributes to the nation’s all-time top scorer 
  • ‘The Cardiff Express’ won five Champions Leagues in nine years at Real Madrid
  • READ: A look at Bale’s glittering career in numbers as the Welsh icon bows out 

Real Madrid hailed Gareth Bale as ‘one of the club’s great legends’ when it reacted it officially to the player announcing his retirement from football.

The club said it wanted to show its ‘gratitude, admiration and affection,’ in the statement that came shortly after the former Wales international confirmed he was quitting.

Listing his 19 trophies it continued: ‘Gareth Bale formed part of our team in one of the club’s most successful periods and gave us some of the greatest memories that will never be forgotten.’

Real Madrid paid tribute to one the most decorated players in their history in Gareth Bale

The immediate reaction elsewhere in Spain was as divided as much of the treatment he received during his nine years at Real Madrid.

In terms of foreign imports few players – including the illustrious Galaticos Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo Nazario – come close to his trophy haul at the club. And as the honours were listed in black and white in Spain’s leading football media it was tough for them not to acknowledge his importance.

Bale won five Champions Leagues with Real Madrid as well as three La Liga titles. He scored 106 goals in 258 games and also picked up a Spanish cup winners medal and won three European Super Cups, four World Club cups and three Spanish Super Cups.

Bale won five Champions Leagues and three LaLiga titles during his stay in the Spanish capital

But the first few comments below Diario AS’s news story of his announcement offered up a neat summary of the range of views on him and his career at Madrid.

There were those who wished him well and thanked him for his service to the club where he spent the baulk of his career. There were others who said he’d ‘retired years ago’. Another said: ‘if he wasn’t motivated at Madrid then how was he ever going to be motivated in LA.’

While some Madrid fans will never accept him into the club’s haul of fame despite his long list of honours, others are ready to give him permanent residency and one of the best seats in the house.

His tally of 106 goals for Los Blancos is higher than legendary striker Ronaldo’s (104)

One supporter wrote in Marca: ‘First he destroyed [Marc] Bartra to win the Copa del Rey final, then against Atletico Madrid with a header in extra time he won the Champions League, and then against Liverpool he won the Champions League with a spectacular overhead kick. 

Bale enjoyed great success during his nine-year spell with Madrid

‘And there were many goals and decisive assists in other victories. He’s been laughed at too but [Ousmane] Dembele would like to be able to say he had given one percent as much to Barça as Bale has given to Madrid.’

That will colour his legacy – the fact that while the 100m euros price tag was thrown in his face during the long spells out injured. His achievements go far beyond similar signings from the same era with Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho not coming close to his success at Barcelona and Eden Hazard a shadow of Bale at Real Madrid.

The club’s statement also drew on that iconic goal scored with a run from the halfway line in the 2014 Copa del Rey final, and the overhead kick against Liverpool.

The statement concluded: ‘You will forever be linked to the history of our club. Best of luck, Gareth, and best wishes to you and your family.’

Bale racked up 106 goals and 67 assists for Los Blancos and the club claimed he will be ‘forever’ linked to their history

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