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"One of the most successful to pull on a white shirt" - Michael Owen and Steve McManaman on Gareth Bale's legacy at Real Madrid
Gareth Bale announced his retirement from professional football aged 33 this week after a glittering career that saw him win the Champions League five times with Real Madrid.
Sixteen major trophies including five Champions League titles and three La Liga titles, 106 goals in all competitions and nine years of service, Gareth Bale's achievements at Real Madrid speak for themselves.
Bale announced his retirement from professional football last week aged 33 and many have argued the Welshman will go down as one of the finest British players in history.
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The forward finished his career with Los Angeles Galaxy but is best remembered for his career with Tottenham and, most notably, Real Madrid where he spent nine years between 2013 and 2022.
Yet despite his unquestionable success, Bale was treated as a pariah at times - booed off by his own supporters and criticised in the Spanish press - during his time at the club.
BTSport.com spoke to two British former Real Madrid players - Michael Owen and Steve McManaman - to assess Bale's legacy after the news of his retirement from the game.
"His numbers at Real Madrid will stand with any player who has pulled on the famous white shirt," says Owen, who spent a solitary season at Real and struggled to make an impact due to injury problems after joining from boyhood club Liverpool.
"He'll always go down in history at Real Madrid and on the pitch I don't think he's got anything to answer for," he added.
McManaman preceded Owen at Real Madrid after leaving Liverpool himself in 1999, spending four seasons in the Spanish capital and winning two Champions League titles and La Liga twice.
The BT Sport pundit echoes Owen's sentiments, insisting: "His legacy is fantastic, with five Champions Leagues he will always be one of their most successful ever players.
"Nowadays people don't want to leave the Premier League, so to go abroad and win all those trophies as he's done and put himself out of his comfort zone and into a new life, learn a new language... I've done it and I know how difficult it is.
"The fact he's stayed there for such a long time, he deserves a huge amount of credit and a huge amount of plaudits for that."
Bale's career at Real Madrid will be remembered by the Welshman orchestrating some of the most memorable moments in the club's history.
His overhead kick in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool and the solo wonder goal to win the Copa del Rey final in 2014 will go down as two of the greatest in recent finals.
"I can't think of many who've had moments like Bale's had in his career and won virtually everything," says Owen. "Even going to a World Cup with his country is almost a win.
"And he's scored some of the most important goals for Real Madrid. I'm sure he could still play at the highest level but the more time I spend in football the more you realise everyone is different."
While the first half of his Real career saw him largely adored by the club's supporters, things turned sour in the latter stages of his time in Spain in what is an extremely political club.
Bale was jeered by Real's home support repeatedly towards the end and had to deal with constant media reports suggesting the club were not his priority and that he was only there for the money.
McManaman, who spent four years there after moving from Liverpool, understands the delicate situation for signings at Real Madrid and how the media can turn.
"I take everything the Spanish papers say with a pinch of salt," McManaman says. "I know what the Spanish papers are like and they need to fill the first 10 pages with Real Madrid content.
"It's nonsense, but many who read the sensationalist headlines don't know a lot of it is nonsense."
"He might not have played the political game," is Owen's verdict on Bale's issues with supporters and the media at Real Madrid.
"He might not have been a fans' favourite but I am sure Real Madrid fans will look back and think if it wasn't for Bale, they might not have two extra Champions League titles in their trophy cabinet."
Bale's former club Real Madrid are taking part in the Spanish Super Cup from Saudi Arabia, broadcast exclusively live on BT Sport.