Statues, murals or a bridge… how should Wales honour Gareth Bale?

There are calls to commemorate the star player following his retirement

Gareth Bale has finally called time on his playing career, prompting talks on how Wales should best honour his achievements with the national team.

The 33-year-old announced his retirement on January 9, ending a remarkable career.

The former Real Madrid, Southampton, Tottenham and LAFC winger made a total of 554 club appearances over the course of his career, scoring a remarkable 186 goals alongside 137 assists.

However it was his time with the national team that truly helped shape his status as a Welsh sporting icon.

Holding both records for the most appearances and goals scored for the men’s team with 111 caps and 41 goals, Bale helped lead his side to a World Cup finals appearance as well as two European championships, including a run to the semi-final in 2016.

Bale scoring in Wales 1-0 win against Ukraine to secure World Cup qualification

And despite Wales’ unceremonious exit at the group stages of the world cup proving to be the end of Bale’s career, there’s no doubt that his legacy will remain intact for years to come.

National team manager Rob Page has already led calls for a statue in the capital to honour the retired star.

“He’s been such a legend and an icon for all the children, I fully support that absolutely,” said Page.

“What a career that man has had, it’s phenomenal. But it’s not just the football team, it’s what he’s done for the country.

“From a cultural point of view, as well as a football point of view, everybody from Wales should be very proud of him.”

Suggested sites for the statue have included outside the Cardiff City Stadium, where Bale helped lead his country to their first world cup in 64 years.

Other sites include the Whitchurch area of the city, where Bale grew up.

There is already a mural of Bale in the village located on Church Road directly opposite St Mary’s Church.

The mural was created back in 2016 as part of a BBC Wales Today special program celebrating the national team’s qualification for Euro 2016.

The Bale mural located near Pontcanna playing fields

A similar mural exists on the walls of the changing room at Pontcanna playing fields alongside images of fellow Welsh athletes Sam Warburton, Colin Jackson and Tanni Grey-Thompson. It was created by graffiti artist Bryce Davies as part of a commission for Cardiff council celebrating Cardiff-based international sports stars. 

Outside of Cardiff, there have also been calls to rename several landmark sites across Wales after the former Wales captain.

This includes a proposal to change the name of the Prince of Wales Bridge following a campaign by Wales fan Andrew Challis.

“I believe, like most of Wales, that Gareth Bale deserves to be honoured and I thought it fitting to re-name this particular structure in his honour,” said Mr Challis.

“Bale for me epitomises what it is to be Welsh, to have that pride in your country and express it.”

The bridge’s original name, The Second Severn Crossing, was changed back in 2018 to the Prince of Wales Bridge to mark 60 years since Prince Charles, now King Charles III, first took the title.

However the renaming of the bridge was controversial, with an online petition against the name change receiving over 30,000 signatures.

“I’ve never agreed with the name, and I feel it should now be changed to honour this deserved Welshman,” said Mr Challis.

Mr Challis’ original petition to both the UK and Welsh governments was rejected, however this set-back hasn’t stopped the dedicated fan, who has instead created an independent petition on to garner public support.

“Momentum is building, and support is growing daily,” said Mr Challis.

“Loads of people are already unofficially calling it the Pont Bale or Bale Bridge!”

A link to Mr Challis’ petition, which has 154 signatures at the time of writing, can be found here.