Gareth Bale thanks Real Madrid as he confirms exit after nine years

Welsh player made only four starts for Spanish club this season after falling out of favour

Gareth Bale has confirmed his departure from Real Madrid in an open letter in which he has stated that his “dream became a reality and much, much more” during his nine years with the club.

It has long been clear that Bale would leave this summer at the end of his contract. He made only four starts for Madrid this season, three of those coming in August. The 32-year-old has barely played since, being injured for long periods and out of favour with Carlo Ancelotti. He spent the 2020-21 season at loan at Tottenham, from where he had joined Madrid for a fee thought to be €100m in 2013.

Bale leaves having won the Champions League five times, though this season he played seven minutes in the competition, and been part of three La Liga-winning squads. His spectacular goal against Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final put Madrid 2-1 up and he sealed victory with another strike.

“I write this message to say thank you to all my team-mates, past and present, my managers, the back room staff and to the fans that supported me,” Bale wrote. “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 Bernabéu, 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.

“To be a part of this club’s history and to achieve what we achieved while I was a Real Madrid player, has been an incredible experience and one I will never forget. I also want to thank president Florentino Pérez, José Ángel Sánchez [the managing director], and the board for giving me the opportunity to play for this club.

“Together we were able to create some moments that will live forever in the history of this club and football. It has been an honour. Thank you! HALA MADRID!”

Bale is part of the Wales squad who play a Nations League match in Poland on Wednesday and face Scotland or Ukraine in a World Cup playoff final in Cardiff on Sunday. — Guardian