Wrexham AFC got its Hollywood ending on Saturday, but the team is hoping its promotion to the fourth division is just the setup for a sequel from Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.
Seventy-two hours after lifting the trophy, the duo has made a public attempt to invite Gareth Bale to play for Wrexham next season. And the 33-year-old retired Welsh player replied with a promising tweet.
Depends what course ⛳️… @RandA https://t.co/j4xHdXnAzs— Gareth Bale (@GarethBale11) April 25, 2023
Despite the playful pleas from Wrexham’s owners, the former Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid striker, came forward on Friday, saying he is not planning to come out from retirement. The soccer star responded to a question from a BBC Sports reporter saying he was just “looking to get a free round of golf off Rob [McElhenney].”
Is it Wrexham or golf for Gareth Bale❓ pic.twitter.com/TaEE5zRqMB— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 28, 2023
Bringing Bale, the former Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid striker who won the Champions League five times with the Spanish team, would have been unimaginable three years ago. The third oldest professional club in English soccer struggled on and off the pitch for decades in the lower divisions before Reynolds and McElhenney took over.
Since the takeover in 2020, the duo invested millions of dollars into the club’s infrastructure and brought in new sponsors. Their reality show Welcome to Wrexham and a successful social media campaign brought millions of eyeballs and new fans worldwide as their popularity grew.
Wrexham also benefitted from unexpected events that felt scripted for a blockbuster movie. Not even Reynolds or McElhenney could plan the last-minute penalty save from goalkeeper Ben Foster in a 3-2 win against closest rivals Notts County last month. Like Bale, the 40-year-old former Manchester United goalkeeper was enjoying his retirement when he was called to play a short season back in March.
Data shows Wrexham’s popularity has surged far beyond Wales’ borders. According to the soccer site Goal, in April alone, more than 300,000 fans in the UK and U.S. have come to the site to read Wrexham content. That’s more readers than Tottenham, Juventus, or Bayern Munich earned for their news over the same period, according to the publication.
“We’ve seen interest in the Wrexham story grow ever since Ryan and Rob took control,” Joe Strange, Goal’s UK managing editor, said in an email. “But the real surge has come in the past month as the story and their season reached its climax.”
The team has over 2 million followers across social media platforms TikTok, Twitter and Instagram.
Bringing Bale back from retirement is a long shot, but right now nothing seems impossible for Wrexham.
(This story has been updated with the latest information that Bale will, in fact, not be coming out of retirement.)