Wrexham owners Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds hope round of golf can tempt Bale out of retirement for ‘one last magical season’.
Wrexham’s season got the Hollywood climax befitting of the club’s owners at the weekend after the Welsh side won promotion back to the Football League after 15 years away.
With their A-list backers Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney in the crowd (along with actor friend Paul Rudd) to witness the historic moment, the Red Dragons came from behind to beat Boreham Wood 3-1 on Saturday and secure promotion to League Two.
Reynolds and McElhenney completed their takeover of the world’s third-oldest football club two years ago and came close to winning promotion in their maiden season at the Racecourse Ground, finishing second in the league before losing 5-4 after extra time against Grimsby Town in the playoff semifinal.
After regrouping and adding some vital experience to their squad – including the late-season arrival of former Manchester United, Watford and England goalkeeper Ben Foster — Wrexham were able to fend off stiff competition from title rivals Notts County to be crowned 2022-23 champions of the National League at the second attempt under their new owners.
Aged 39 at the time, Foster came out of retirement in March to sign a short-term deal with the club he first represented on loan 18 years ago. The veteran shot-stopper, 40, played an instrumental role in Wrexham’s run-in with a pivotal last-minute penalty save against Notts County to help to clinch the trophy.
While Foster has hinted that he may be willing to play on with Wrexham in League Two next season, club chiefs are already making moves to lure an even bigger name out of retirement to help bolster the squad in the quest for back-to-back promotions.
Just two days after his club had secured their place in the Football League, club co-owner McElhenney was making overtures to five-time Champions League winner Gareth Bale, offering him the chance to “un-retire” and represent Wrexham.
The “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star received a congratulatory video message from former Real Madrid forward Bale which appeared to have been filmed in his natural habitat; the golf course.
McElhenney posted the short video clip on social media, with an accompanying offer for Bale to share a round of golf soon to give the former the opportunity to badger the latter into re-lacing his boots and joining the cause for next season which read:
“Hey Gareth Bale let’s play golf, where I totally won’t spend 4 hours trying to convince you to un-retire for one last magical season.”
Bale replied, tagging in the R&A, which organises The Open from its base at the home of golf in St. Andrews, Scotland. He said: “Depends what course…”.
Reynolds weighed in on Wednesday, tweeting:
“I will shave a professional-grade golf course into Rob’s back if you’ll give Wrexham a season.”
Bale announced his retirement in January after captaining Wales at the 2022 World Cup, describing the decision as “by far the hardest of my career.” The 33-year-old had spent the previous six months with LAFC but failed to complete a full 90 minutes during his brief stint in Major League Soccer which was hampered by injury.
Still, he had enough left in his legs to score a vital equaliser deep into extra time of the MLS Cup final against Philadelphia Union, forcing the penalty shootout from which LAFC claimed the title. Clearly, Philly born-and-bred McElhenney doesn’t hold it against him or has, at the very least, long since forgiven him.
It’s certainly a long shot given Bale’s recent injury record, and it would likely take a significant offer to coax him from his beloved links. But as McElhenney, Reynolds and the Wrexham family have proven already, there’s absolutely no harm in dreaming big.