Welsh star Bale retires from soccer at 33

Gareth Bale has announced his retirement from football.

Wales' most-capped men's player with 111 appearances Bale won five Champions League trophies and a host of other honours.

With 41 goals he also held the men's national team goalscoring record, was at one time their youngest men's cap, and became the most expensive player in world football when he signed for Real Madrid from Tottenham in 2013 for EUR100m ($A155 m).

Cardiff-born he also played for Southampton and Los Angeles Galaxy.

The 33-year-old, who had been troubled by injury in recent years, made his final competitive appearance for Wales against England in the World Cup in November.

Bale wrote on his social media accounts that "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."

Bale scored in his final club outing in November to help Galaxy win the MLS Cup but the latter years of his career were dominated by his commitment to, and influence on the Wales team.

He inspired them to reach the European Championship finals for the first time in 2016, when they reached the semi-finals, and this year end a 64-year absence from the World Cup. On both occasions he then scored their first goal of the finals.

"My journey on the international stage is one that has changed not only my life but who I am," added Bale. "The fortune of being Welsh and being selected to play for and captain Wales, has given me something incomparable to anything else I've experienced.

"I am honoured and humbled to have been able to play a part in the history of this incredible country, to have felt the support and passion of the red wall, and together have been to unexpected and amazing places."

Bale added he was "stepping back, but not away from the team that lives in me and runs through my veins."

Bale's relationship with Real Madrid fans soured towards the end of his time there but a club statement offered fulsome praise.

"Real Madrid want to show their thanks, admiration and love for a great legend of our club and world football," it said.

"Gareth Bale was part of our team in one of the most successful eras in our history and will represent forever many of the brightest moments of the past decade.

"His figure will always be linked to the history and legend of our club. Lots of luck, Gareth, and our best wishes to you and your family."

A tweet from Spurs read: "Thank you for everything, @GarethBale11. Congratulations on an incredible career."

Those sentiments were echoed by Southampton who also referred to him as a "generational talent" and "one of our own".