Pep jokes that retired Bale will be a 'fantastic golf player'
Gareth Bale's retirement announcement sparking a new wave of golf-related jokes and memes was par for the course – he might not have expected Pep Guardiola to chip in, though.
The Wales great confirmed on Monday his career in professional football has come to an end after representing his country at the 2022 World Cup.
Despite his brilliance as footballer over the years, it is certainly not the only sport Bale is closely associated with.
During his time in Madrid, Bale's penchant for taking to the golf course while injured began to tee Los Blancos fans off, and former player Predrag Mijatovic once suggested the Welshman's priorities were "Wales, then golf, and after that, Real Madrid".
Wales fans subsequently turned it into a chant and slogan, with Bale even among the players holding a flag that read "Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order" as the team celebrated reaching Euro 2020.
Ever since, it has been a running joke largely used to poke fun at Madrid, and Guardiola – while paying tribute to the 33-year-old – made the most of a gimme opportunity with a quip of his own.
When first asked if he had ever tried to sign Bale, Guardiola said with a grin: "Too expensive.
"What a player. Fantastic career, won a lot of things, and I think he represented Wales and won more than 100 caps.
"And now he will become a fantastic golf player."
While Guardiola may not have ever invited Bale to join him at Manchester City, Bayern Munich or Barcelona despite occasional links, it seems he did approach him about hitting the course.
Bale's unavailability then meant they were unable to iron out the details, but he appears likely to get another offer soon.
Guardiola added: "He was busy, but now maybe he has time, I will invite him again."