Gareth Bale has revealed he intends to continue representing Wales beyond this winter’s World Cup, with Euro 2024 as his target and even the 2026 World Cup as a possibility.
There had been suggestions that Bale could retire after Qatar 2022 and that his 12-month contract at Los Angeles FC could be his last after a difficult past few seasons at Real Madrid.
However, in his first press conference as an MLS squad player, Bale made it clear that he intended to play beyond this season, with the European Championships in Germany and the Cup of the world to four years in North America, both goals.
“I’m still 32 – 33 at the end of the week – and I still have many years ahead of me,” said the five-time Champions League winner.
“I haven’t come here to be here for six months, 12 months, I’ve come here to try to be here as long as possible. I want to do the best I can, make my mark in this league, this J look forward to the future, it’s not short.
“It also gives me the best opportunity to continue to the next Euros, maybe further, so my plan is to really work hard.
“There is a good physical team [at the club]the medical staff, the training ground performance staff and we have a great plan to get me up to speed and hopefully last as long as possible.
“Being here gives me the best possible chance of qualifying for the Euros and you never know, maybe one more, that’s my goal. I feel like I’m here to play a big role.”
Bale joins an LAFC team that is only in its fifth full season but tops the Western Conference. The California side also signed Italy and Juventus legend Giorgio Chiellini this summer and the Welshman is aiming for silverware with his new club.
Bale says he also hopes to play his part in growing the game in the United States and helping the club’s young players to progress.
“Talking to Larry [Berg, lead managing owner] and John [Thorrington, co-president and general manager] on Zoom, I immediately felt like I was the right destination,” Bale said.
“The exciting project, the growing club, they are doing well at the moment and the city is not bad too!
“I also want to try to help grow football in the United States. I want to try to help young people grow. I was talking to a few of them this morning and if I can help them in any way whatever, I will.
“For players who have been through a lot in their career, I think we also have a responsibility to develop the game around the world.
“It’s a league that’s really growing. It’s come a long way in the last 10 years and everyone is striving to improve this league. The players who come see it too.
“I don’t think anyone sees it now as a retirement league. It’s physical, it’s demanding, the weather changes are tough, the travel is tough but it’s exciting to play in front of fans like the ‘3252 ‘. That’s what you play for football. The atmosphere is amazing in these stadiums and it will be great to witness it.”
Why Bale’s move to MLS is good for everyone involved…
While Bale’s transfer to the United States may come as a surprise to some. For those in Wales, it will come as no shock.
During the last international camp, Bale, Rob Page and all the other members of the formation were asked about a possible transfer to Cardiff City. They didn’t minimize the chance, but they were also polite and respectful.
It would have been a huge risk for Bale to take even a short contract to play in the Championship, the risk of being injured either by an ill-timed tackle or simply by the wear and tear of one of the toughest leagues in the world was, in my opinion, never on the cards.