Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from club and international football at the age of 33, and among the storied memories of the Real Madrid and Wales legend’s career is a humble gesture involving Liverpool.
The Welshman called time on his playing days on Monday afternoon, with his last act as a professional being to play at a World Cup for the first time.
It wasn’t the tournament Wales would have dreamed of, despite opening the World Cup with a 1-1 draw against USA.
They were second-best against Iran and England, losing both games and finishing bottom of Group B.
But for Bale, his team-mates and Wales fans, just being in Qatar was a dream realised, especially for a player that had such a prominent role in so many historic Welsh moments.
There were also five Champions League titles with Real Madrid – and one incredible bicycle kick against none other than Liverpool in the victorious 2018 final.
In the Premier League, Bale caused nightmares for defences for a number of years with Tottenham, and won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in 2011 and 2013.
When it comes to Liverpool, meanwhile, some Reds players have a special memory of the 33-year-old – besides causing them Champions League heartbreak.
Gareth Bale’s Liverpool gesture
After the 2018 final, which Real won 3-1, the Los Blancos players naturally made full use of the post-match celebrations.
But according to Reds legend Robbie Fowler, Bale was the first opponent to speak to Liverpool’s devastated players on the field of play after the final whistle – while his team-mates were celebrating.
It will have certainly been a classy gesture from the Real star, who came off the bench to score twice in what was one of his finest nights on the football pitch.
Amongst those in Jurgen Klopp’s contingent that day were Bale’s former Southampton team-mate Adam Lallana, now of Brighton, and his compatriot Ben Woodburn, now of Preston North End.
And the Liverpool Echo report that Bale spoke with both players behind the scenes after the defeat – although the conversation with Lallana happened in the drug testing room, with both players having been called in after the match, and the on-field celebrations, had been completed.