There aren’t many players in the last generation or so who could legitimately be mentioned in the same breath as St. Steven Gerrard. Xabi Alonso is one of them.
Although the midfielder didn’t stick around Merseyside for as long as Gerrard, Alonso still racked up 210 appearances in Red, scoring 19 goals in the process. That might not seem like a lot of goals, but he had a unique ability to make those goals memorable: whether they were long-range efforts from his own half (something he managed not once, but twice), long-range efforts from the opponents half (just a standard crackin’ goal, nothing to see here), or—perhaps his most memorable and important goal of all—the equalizer in Istanbul on a rebound from his own blocked penalty.
“It was not an easy decision, but I think it’s the right moment. I always wanted to stop earlier than too late. I feel good, but I think it’s the right time,” Alonso said in an interview.
“I’ve really experienced a lot, at Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich – these were four great clubs – and also in the national team. I never thought I’d have such a great career, and I hope there’ll be something else.”
Alonso, now 35, helped guide Liverpool back to the heights of European success, going to two Champions League finals, winning one. He also helped Liverpool lift their last FA Cup in 2006.
Since leaving Liverpool in 2009, he helped Real Madrid to Champions League glory in 2013/14 and a La Liga title in 2011/12. And for good measure he helped Bayern Munich to consecutive Bundesliga titles in 2014/15, and 2015/16 (and almost certainly another this year).
We would be remiss if we failed to mention his success with the Spanish national team, who were one of the most dominant international squads ever from 2008-2012. Alonso was an integral part in helping that squad win two European Championships and a World Cup.
From 2007-2009, Liverpool’s midfield consisted of Steven Gerrard, Javier Mascherano, and Xabi Alonso. When the Kop sang that we had the best midfield in the world, it wasn’t a brag that was easily dismissed. (It is also a sad reminder of how far this club has fallen).
Thanks for the great memories, Xabi, and enjoy your retirement. YNWA.