Former Real Madrid star Gareth Bale reveals the toughest right-back he played against and explains why he retired at 33

Comments (0)
Gareth Bale Champions League trophy Real Madrid
Gareth Bale has revealed Micah Richards to be the toughest right-back he faced, while also explaining why he retired at the age of 33.
  • Hung up boots in January 2023
  • Starred for Spurs, Real & Wales
  • Also represented Southampton & LAFC

WHAT HAPPENED? The former Wales international took the decision to hang up his boots in January 2023 following the World Cup finals in Qatar – with his last action at club level seeing him savour MLS Cup glory with LAFC. His glittering career ended in America, but it began at Southampton and took in memorable spells with Tottenham and Real Madrid. Bale was one of the most fearsome forwards on the planet at one stage – allowing him to become the most expensive player in world football when joining Real in 2013 – and he tested himself against some of the finest defenders around.

WHAT THEY SAID: Asked to pick out the best of the right-backs he lined up against, having spent the peak years of his career operating on the flanks, Bale told The Times: “The hardest right back I played against was Micah Richards. I was a bit quicker but he was an athlete, so strong and holding. I’d knock it round him but he just [leans across and] goes ‘no!’”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Bale won three La Liga titles and five Champions League crowns during his time in Madrid, but faced plenty of criticism as well and headed into retirement after just 13 games with LAFC. Asked to explain that decision, Bale said: I didn’t fall out of love with the game, I just felt I’d achieved everything I wanted to,” he says. “I have no regrets. I’m very happy with my career. With Wales, I also want to give the next generation time to come through. I hope I’ve showed them what we expect of our team when we play and what we do in the environment in the dressing room. I still enjoyed playing but it just got to a point where I wanted to spend more time with my family. My kids are growing up so fast I felt like I missed a lot.”

Article continues below


Micah Richards Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale Wales 2022

WHAT NEXT? Bale has hinted at moving into coaching at some stage, despite being yet to take his badges, but is enjoying having plenty of spare time for now as he indulges in his other great sporting passion – golf.