By Charlie MacKinnon
Xabi Alonso will retire from football at the end of the season.
He will be missed. pic.twitter.com/2UCcNSZilV
— GeniusFootball (@GeniusFootball) January 20, 2017
After announcing he is to retire at the end of the season, here’s our pick of the highlights of Xabi Alonso’s career.
2002/03: Captaining Real Sociedad to a second-place finish and winning Spanish Player of the Year
After a loan spell at Eibar, then-manager John Toshack recalled Alonso to Real Sociedad and made him captain.
The Spaniard impressed throughout the season, making him name in La Liga as Sociedad finished second in the table, just two points shy of Real Madrid.
Alonso’s efforts were rewarded when he received the Don Balon award for Spanish Player of the Year. In the summer of 2004, he moved to Liverpool for £10.5 million. As they say: the rest is history…
2005: Champions League glory in his first season at Anfield
The Anfield faithful took an instant liking to Alonso in his first season at the club; winning the Premier League goal of the month award for his wonder-strike strike against Newcastle in November.
The Spaniard was pivotal in Liverpool’s famous comeback in that season’s Champions League in Istanbul, scoring the equaliser as Liverpool fought back from being 3-0 down to Milan.
Their win on penalties was described by Alonso as ‘the best moment in my professional career’.
Video Credit: YouTube Channel – FootballFreak712
2008: Alonso’s strike ends Chelsea’s unbeaten run
After going 86 matches without losing at Stamford Bridge, it was Alonso’s strike that saw Chelsea’s unbeaten home run end.
The 1-0 victory for Rafa Benitez’s side resulted in them going top of the table, in a season where they came second with a record points tally behind Manchester United.
By this point, Alonso had secured his status as a Liverpool legend. Steven Gerrard described his team-mate as “By some distance, the best central midfielder I have ever played alongside.” John Arne Riise named his former team-mate “the pass master”.
2003-14: A hat-trick of trophies for Spain and a century of international caps
Alonso made his international debut for Spain in a 4-0 thrashing of Ecuador in 2003. He went on to help them win Euro 2008, Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup.
His 100th game for his country saw him score both goals in the 2-0 quarter-final win over France at Euro 2012. Spain went on to retain their crown, making it three international tournament victories in a row.
Alonso announced his retirement from international football in 2014. Then-coach Vicente Del Bosque said: “It is very difficult to improve on what he has done. He leaves with us a fantastic legacy and has been a great professional.”
2014: La Decima- Another Champions League medal in the cabinet
Despite missing the final through suspension, Alonso was a regular in Real Madrid’s 2014 Champions League-winning side.
He gained his second Champions League winners medal after Real beat Atletico Madrid; a landmark tenth European title for the club.
Real’s coach at the time, Carlo Ancelotti, said: “Xabi Alonso holds the key to everything…he has that rare ability to see what is going to happen before it does.”.
An astonishing and illustrious career. Happy retirement to the pass master, Xabi Alonso.