The former Southampton, Tottenham and Real Madrid forward made his final competitive appearance during Wales’ World Cup group stage fixture with England on 29 November.
Bale wrote on his social media accounts: “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.”
Here we look at his career goalscoring record.
Appearances: 282 Goals: 77
Beginning his career with Southampton in the Championship, Bale earned a move to Premier League side Tottenham in 2007 and established himself as a world-class talent.
He scored five goals in 45 Saints appearances despite operating primarily as a left-back, the position in which he also began his Spurs career before moving forward to the wing and eventually into the forward line.
After notching only six goals in his first three seasons in north London, he hit double figures in the next two and then 26 – including 21 in the Premier League – in a career-best 2012-13 campaign before leaving for Real Madrid with a record of 56 goals in 203 games for Tottenham.
He returned to Spurs on loan for the majority of the 2020-21 season, producing spells of his old form as he scored 11 league goals and 16 in 34 games in all competitions.
Appearances: 258 Goals: 106
Firmly established as an elite attacking talent by the time of his move to Spain, Bale hit double figures in LaLiga in four of his first five seasons before falling out of favour.
He scored 22 for Real in 2013-14 – including six in the Champions League, his best ever return in Europe – while his 19 club goals in 2015-16 all came in the league.
His 21 in all competitions in 2017-18 represents the last time he passed 20 goals in a season, with just 11 league goals for Real after that point though he did reach 14 in all competitions in 2018-19, including a Club World Cup hat-trick against Kashima Antlers.
His 106 goals for the club featured three in Champions League finals, including a memorable brace against Liverpool in 2018.
Los Angeles FC
Appearances: 13 Goals: 3
Bale’s club swansong in Major League Soccer was short-lived and featured only two starts but proved a win-win for him and his club, helping him stay in condition for Wales’ November World Cup campaign, while he played a key role in LAFC’s MLS Cup win.
His third and final goal for the club came deep into stoppage time at the end of the final against the Philadelphia Union, levelling the tie at 3-3 and allowing his 10-man side to win on penalties and lift the trophy.
Appearances: 111 Goals: 41
Bale was his country’s captain, talisman and record goalscorer, passing Ian Rush’s previous Wales record of 28 with a hat-trick against China in March 2018.
He made his debut aged 16 in 2006 and was their youngest ever player at the time, a record since broken by Harry Wilson, going on to win a national record 111 caps.
His first goal came against Slovakia as a 17-year-old and he scored prolifically in qualifying campaigns for successive major tournaments, most notably Euro 2016 where he got seven in the preliminary campaign and three more at the finals – Wales’ first major tournament since 1958.
A hat-trick against Belarus and play-off goals against Austria and Ukraine were instrumental in ending Wales’ 64-year wait for a World Cup appearance, and he then scored their only goal in Qatar.