MADRID: Gareth Bale’s mixed-up stay at Real Madrid, with whom he helped win the Champions League five times, is all over.
The 32-year-old Wales captain said his Madrid “dream became a reality” in a statement marking his end-of-contract departure after “an incredible experience”.
Bale said: “I write this message to say thank you to all my team-mates, past and present, my managers, the backroom staff and to the fans that supported me.
“I arrived here nine years ago as a young man who wanted to realise my dream of playing for Real Madrid.
“To wear the pristine white kit, to wear the crest on my chest, to play at the Santiago Bernabeu, to win titles and to be part of what it’s so famous for, to win the Champions League – I can now look back, reflect and say with honesty that this dream became a reality and much, much more.”
Last Saturday’s victory over Liverpool was the end of the Bale saga during which he fell out of favour and spent the 2020-21 campaign on loan at former club Tottenham.
Bale has won three La Liga titles with Real, four Club World Cups, three UEFA Super Cups, one Copa del Rey and three Spanish Super Cups, since joining from Spurs for £85m in 2013.
Bale is currently with the Wales squad for four Nations League games as well as Sunday’s World Cup play-off final against either Scotland or Ukraine.
It is not yet known where he will be playing club football next season, with Tottenham and Cardiff City touted as potential suitors and speculation he could move to Major League Soccer.
A Real Madrid statement “said it would like to express its sincere gratitude and affection to Gareth Bale, a player who will forever be part of the club’s legacy”.
The statement read: “In addition to his impressive silverware, Gareth Bale will be remembered by all Real Madrid fans for his wonderful and decisive goals such as his unforgettable header in the Champions League final in Lisbon, his amazing solo run in the final of the Copa del Rey in Valencia and his iconic overhead kick in the final of the Champions League in Kiev, where we secured La Decimotercera.
“Real Madrid is and always will be his home, and we would like to wish him and all his family the best of luck for the future.”