Bale, Hugo Lloris announce retirement

 Gareth Bale has retired from professional football aged 33.

The former Tottenham and Real Madrid forward, who spent last season at LAFC in MLS, was part of Wales’ squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Bale has described the decision to quit international football as “by far the hardest of my career”. The Welshman won five Champi­ons League titles and LaLiga three times at Real Madrid and is consid­ered one of Britain’s greatest-ever football exports.

Bale wrote on social media: “Af­ter careful and thoughtful consid­eration, I announce my immediate retirement from club and interna­tional football.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to have realised my dream of playing the sport I love. It has truly given me some of the best moments of my life. The highest of highs over 17 seasons that will be impossible to replicate, no matter what the next chapter has in store for me.”

In a related development, France captain, Hugo Lloris, has an­nounced his retirement from inter­national football at the age of 36, three weeks after his country lost the World Cup final on penalties to Argentina in Doha.

“I have decided to stop my in­ternational career, with the feeling that I have given everything,” Tot­tenham Hotspur goalkeeper, Lloris, said in an interview with French sports daily, L’Equipe, published on Monday.

“I think it is important to an­nounce this now, two and a half months before the start of Euro qualifying.”

Lloris, who made his inter­national debut as a 21-year-old in a friendly against Uruguay in November 2008, bows out after becoming France’s most-capped player during the World Cup.

He overtook previous re­cord-holder, Lilian Thuram’s mark of 142 appearances and finished with his 145th cap in the final, which France lost 4-2 on penalties after an epic 3-3 draw at the end of extra time.

“I have really been thinking about it since the end of the World Cup, but there has been some­thing deep inside of me for maybe six months now and which grew during the competition, leading me to make this decision,” Lloris said.

Former Nice and Lyon goal­keeper, Lloris, captained France to victory at the 2018 World Cup in


He played at seven major tour­naments in total, including Euro 2016, when France lost in the final to Portugal as hosts.

France’s back-up goalkeepers at the World Cup were 37-year-old Rennes veteran Steve Mandanda and Alphonse Areola of West Ham United.

Lloris’ decision comes after coach, Didier Deschamps – in charge since 2012 – signed a new contract to remain in the position through to the 2026 World Cup in North America.

“I must, we must, respect his decision even if he still had his place in our team, as he demon­strated during the last World Cup,” Deschamps said in a statement.

“A great servant of the France team is bowing out and I want to pay tribute to his exceptional career.

“Beyond all the records that his talent and professionalism enabled him to break, beyond the essential role that he played in our greatest victories … Hugo is a remarkable person on a human level.”

The next assignment for Deschamps and France is the qualifying campaign for Euro 2024 in Germany, which be­gins at the end of March with a double-header against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

They will also play Greece and Gibraltar in Group B, with the top two teams advancing to the finals which will take place from June 14 to July 14 next year.


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