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Who is Xabi Alonso?

Nick Wilhelm

Updated: Oct 10, 2022 02:55

Xabi Alonso: A Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Spain great returns to the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen

xabi-alonso

Three-time Bundesliga winner Xabi Alonso left an indelible mark on Bayern Munich.

At the ripe old age of 32, Xabi Alonso supposedly entered his golden years when he moved from Real Madrid to Bayern Munich in the summer of 2014. However, the Spanish midfielder didn't act his age in what was a fitting end to a distinguished career.

Clevpicks.com will introduce you the stories of Xabi Alonso...

The former Real Sociedad, Liverpool, and Real Madrid pass master served as the center of one of the most successful Bayern teams in history for three illustrious seasons, pinging laser-sighted passes around with golden eagle-like peripheral vision. Before retiring from the sport in May 2016 together with iconic club captain Philipp Lahm, he added three Bundesliga championships and one DFB Cup to an impressive resume.

"We were rivals, big rivals when he was at Real Madrid,"recalled Pep Guardiola, the man who brought Alonso to Bayern. "After that I was so lucky to have him in Munich. He understands the game and has curiosity to understand the game. He knew during the weeks what we would have to do to win the next games, to beat them. He already had the curiosity to know.

"How the people speak about him - all the managers that he had in his career - is like a human being. He is one of the best midfielders I've ever seen in my life."

alonso-and-guardiola

"Have some, Xabi, you've earned it!" Alonso (r.) was an integral part of Pep Guardiola's (l. ) master plan at Bayern Munich.

Guardiola spoke truthfully. Alonso is comparable to some of the best midfielders of his generation thanks to his accurate passing, ball feel and intuition, and tactical awareness. He was the epitome of exquisite elegance and a model professional, whose natural talents, passion for education, and appetite for achievement allowed him to compete at the highest level in club football for almost 20 years.

Alonso guided Sociedad, his old team, to their closest La Liga title chase in 21 years in 2002–03. During a memorable five-season stint with Liverpool, he won the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup, and FA Community Shield. At Real Madrid, he won six trophies in five years, including the elusive Decima in 2014, the club's tenth European Cup. He also contributed to the most dominant period the Spain national team has ever had.

real-madrid-alonso

Alonso was a member of the Real Madrid squad that defeated Bayern Munich to claim the 2014 UEFA Champions League title.

Alonso won 114 caps for the senior team between 2003 and 2014, earning three substitute appearances and one start as La Furja Roja defeated Germany 1-0 in the 2008 UEFA Euro final to end a 44-year title drought.

Despite losing their initial group match to Switzerland, Spain went to South Africa for the FIFA World Cup two years later as one of the favorites and duly won the tournament.

This time, Alonso controlled the midfield in every match, but one of the tournament's most memorable images came from an encounter with Nigel de Jong in which the Spaniard received a notorious kung-fu kick to the ribs. The event occurred in the final.

"All I felt was extreme pain in my chest,"Alonso told ​FourFourTwo of the moment he was pole-axed by De Jong. "It felt like my body had been torn apart and then not put back together properly. There were a couple of stud marks but nothing else, as the impact was right on my rib cage.

"My body was shaking, but this was the World Cup final – there was no way I was going off. I played for as long as I could."

A warrior and string-puller, Alonso eventually ended his international career after his side was eliminated in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, but not before winning more gold at Euro 2012. He scored both goals—a spectacular header and a penalty—as Spain defeated France 2-0 in the quarterfinals to advance. Spain later defeated Portugal and Italy to win their third straight major international championship.

spain-alonso

Phooey De Jong Kong! Alonso persevered despite the hardship so that Spain and him could win the 2010 World Cup.

Unsurprisingly, Bayern merely saw a continuation of the trophy-heavy pattern. Along with winning three Bundesliga championships, the 2015–16 DFB Cup, and the 2016 Supercup, Alonso also established a new Bundesliga mark for the most touches in a single game (204), which was later surpassed by Julian Weigl of Borussia Dortmund. Alonso also set the record for the oldest Matchday 1 goalscorer in the German top division with his postage stamp goal against Werder Bremen on August 26, 2016, at the age of 34 years, nine months, and one day.

"I wanted to end my career still at the highest level, and Bayern is the highest level," said Alonso, who registered five goals and seven assists in 79 Bundesliga appearances between 2014 and 2017. "I'm incredibly proud and happy to play for FC Bayern and to be a part of this family.

"I've experienced so much as a player with Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. They are all great clubs. And of course, with the Spanish national team. I never would've thought I'd have such a great career."

Playing for one of the top teams in Europe is already a success, but to play for three of them is the stuff of football fantasy. The voyage is still not complete. Alonso had a successful start to his coaching career, leading the Real Madrid U13s to the Division de Honor Juvenil championship in 2018–19, capping off a fantastic first season in charge.

Later, he rejoined his old team Real Sociedad as the reserve team's manager in 2019 and led them to a fifth-place finish in the Segunda B standings for the 2019–20 season. The squad was promoted to the second level for the first time in 60 years the year after he led them to a play-off triumph.

Alonso's charges, the sole second-string squad at that level in 2021/22, would finish five points short of safety and be demoted to the third tier. Their coach would leave in the summer.

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the former CEO of Bayern, had openly discussed bringing him back to Munich long before that.

"I think we have to make an effort to bring Xabi Alonso back to Bayern at some point,"Rummenigge told kicker in April 2019. "He is the best central midfielder we've had in recent years. He wasn't the quickest, but he was the best strategically and the most intelligent I've ever seen in our midfield.

"He was a marvellous player, who speaks four languages and German fluently. He was a real personality. I'd really like him to return to Bayern one day, he's a true gentleman."

Even though Alonso hasn't played on a football field in five years, he's almost back at Bayern Munich thanks to his new position as Bayer Leverkusen's first senior coach beginning in October 2022. Alonso is hoping to share the wealth of knowledge he gained during his playing career with a young Werkself team.

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