Gareth Bale confirms Real Madrid departure in heartfelt farewell message | Soccer

Gareth Bale confirms Real Madrid departure in heartfelt farewell message

The Welshman won five Champions League titles with Los Blancos (Image: Getty)

Gareth Bale has confirmed his departure from Real Madrid after nine years in the Spanish capital, thanking the club’s supporters despite their often fraught relationship.

The Welshman joined the Bernabeu from Tottenham in 2013, winning three La Liga titles and five Champions League titles there – most recently in this year’s final, where Liverpool were beaten 1-0.

Bale has faced considerable criticism from Real Madrid supporters in the final years of his tenure, even receiving boos and jeers.

Gareth Bale confirms Real Madrid departure in heartfelt farewell message

Bale played just seven minutes of Real’s Champions League season (Getty)

Injuries limited his playing time, although some fans felt he prioritized playing for Wales over his home club and spent too much time on the golf course.

The 32-year-old made just five La Liga appearances last season, made just two appearances in the Champions League-winning campaign and actually amassed more minutes for Wales than Real.

There was never any hint that either party wanted to extend his contract, which expires at the end of the month, and Bale has now confirmed his departure but says he will look back on his time with affection and pride.

In a statement on Wednesday, he wrote: “I’m writing this message to say thank you to all my past and present teammates, my managers, the backroom staff and the fans who have supported me.

“I came here nine years ago as a young man who wanted to fulfill my dream of playing for Real Madrid.

“To wear the immaculate white jersey, to have the crest on my chest, to play at the Santiago Bernabeu, to win trophies and to be part of what winning the Champions League is so famous for.

“I can now look back, reflect and say with honesty that that dream became a reality and much, much more.

“Being part of the history of this club and achieving what we have achieved as Real Madrid players has been an incredible experience that I will never forget.

Gareth Bale confirms Real Madrid departure in heartfelt farewell message

Bale is expected to join Championship team Cardiff City (Image: Getty)

“I also want to thank President Florentino Perez, Jose Angel Sanchez and the board for giving me the opportunity to play for this club.

“Together we were able to create some moments that will live on forever in the history of this club and football. It was an honor for me. Thanks very much! Hello Madrid!’

There have been suggestions Bale could retire after his Real contract expires, but he will continue playing at least until the World Cup in Qatar later this year and is expected to join Championship club Cardiff City.

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