Gareth Bale deserves a statue in his honor, according to Welsh coach Rob Page.
Bale, a five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, announced his retirement on Monday after winning 111 international caps and scoring 41 goals.
The 33-year-old’s decision came after Wales’ disappointing performances at the World Cup where Page’s side failed to make it out of the group.
Bale struggled in Qatar as he was unfit for the game, but scored his final Welsh goal from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw with the United States.
Rugby great Gareth Edwards has a statue commemorating his achievements in Cardiff. Page says he wants to pay a similar tribute to Bale at his City Stadium in Cardiff, where some of the former Welsh captain’s footballing moments have happened.
“He was a legend and an icon to all the kids and I totally stand by that,” Paige said.
“What a career that guy has had.
“He helped us qualify for the World Cup, which made us famous as a country. He put us on the map of the world.
“From a cultural standpoint, from a football standpoint, everyone in Wales should be proud of him.”
Bale reached out to Page on Sunday and made a similar call to MLS club Los Angeles FC to tell him he was retiring from football permanently.
Paige agreed with the decision, stating that “he’s at a stage in life where he’s achieved everything he wants to do,” before watching a montage of Bale’s biggest goals and moments on Monday.
He now wants Bale to remain in the Welsh set-up in some capacity, with talks planned “in the coming weeks” about what that entails.
“When you have a player like Gareth, what he’s done for Wales, the impact he can have – even when he’s around players in the dressing room – I have to take advantage of that. .
“He’s interested in it, so I want to keep him involved.
“There may have already been discussions before this about him remaining involved in some way.
“But the important thing now is to celebrate his career and what he has done for us as a nation.”
Commenting on Bale’s decision to retire, Page added:
“Not that I expected that from him on that call, but if you take a step back and take the emotion out of it, you’ll understand why he did that. To finish at the top, I get.
“Sad and very sentimental to learn that Gareth will not be wearing boots again in Wales.
“But conversely, Brennan Johnson, who I used as an example, gives us an opportunity to lock in that position.”