Photography by Rafael de Pazos

Xabi Alonso

Player, Real Sociedad 2000-2004, Liverpool 2004-2009, Real Madrid 2009-2014, Bayern Munich 2014-2017

Xabi Alonso spent his formative years at Real Sociedad, where he made his first-team debut at the age of 18 and went on to make more than 100 appearances for the club.

In the summer of 2004 he arrived at Liverpool, marking the start of a new era at Anfield under manager Rafa Benitez. At the time of his arrival, Benitez described Alonso thus: “Very clever. He is good with long and short passes. He has more skill than strength. He is intelligent and will play well.”

The Spanish midfielder played a pivotal role in Liverpool’s remarkable Champions League final victory in 2005, scoring the goal that dramatically drew the Reds level at 3-3 with AC Milan, having been 3-0 down. We all know what happened after that.

Alonso remained at Anfield until 2009, when he returned to Spain to join a Real Madrid team then managed by Manuel Pellegrini. Over the course of five years at the Bernabeu, Alonso played under three different managers, with Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti occupying the hotseat after Pellegrini.

His final stop as a player was Bayern Munich, where then manager Pep Guardiola said Alonso would provide the experience he was looking for: “I know he’s 32, but that doesn’t matter in this position, where you need intelligent players.”

In this exclusive video, Alonso talks through his role at each club, describing how it varied depending on who he was playing alongside, the manager he was playing for, and the opposition he was facing.

Xabi Alonso

Diego Simeone

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Albert Ferrer

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Former Barcelona and Chelsea defender Albert Ferrer on playing under Gianluca Vialli and Claudio Ranieri, and why John Terry has the ingredients to become a great coach

José Mourinho

Shackling Lionel Messi and beating Barcelona – as Liverpool prepare to attempt the impossible, José Mourinho gives an exclusive Masterclass on how he coached Inter Milan to achieve both in the Champions League