Xabi Alonso was the fulcrum to Madrid’s midfield from 2009 to 2014, winning 1 Copa Del Rey title, 1 La Liga title, and 1 Champions League title. Every coach, be it Jose Mourinho or Carlo Ancelotti, relied on Xabi’s wonderful tactical mind to dictate the tempo of their Madrid teams. He is currently the coach of Real Madrid’s Infantil A (players aged 13-14), and led them to an undefeated season with 22 wins and 1 draw. In an exclusive interview with Nico Rosberg via his podcast, Beyond Victory, Xabi discussed a myriad of topics: his father as a professional player and role model growing up, the distractions young players now face, his thoughts when transferring to Liverpool at the age of 22, that historic 2005 Champions League final, the pressure at Real Madrid, Cristiano’s relentless training, impactful coaches (Rafa, Mourinho, Pep), admiration for Lahm, and what he’s learned as a coach.
The discussion gradually moved through each part of Xabi’s career from Sociedad to Liverpool and eventually Madrid. It was interesting to note Xabi’s thoughts about his move to Real Madrid: “After 5 years with Liverpool, I went back to Spain, but I was much more mature. I had already lived big games and big experiences. That helped me a lot to play for Real. The pressure is huge. That year we signed Benzema, Cristiano, Kaka, and it was a massive new project. It was the second time with Florentino there. To have that credit and that perspective, helped me a lot on the pitch. I had already shown that I could play at the highest level”. As soon as the host, Nico, asked about Real Madrid and the size of the club, you could sense Xabi was searching for the right words to articulate the difficulty, but the importance, of playing for the biggest club in the world. Zidane’s apparent recruitment of players like Hazard and Pogba, both of whom have performed and proved themselves on the biggest of stages, makes more sense when internalizing Xabi’s words.
Alonso went on and elaborated further on his transfer to Madrid, “...when I went to Liverpool people didn’t know me that much, but 5 years later I had already won the Champions League, the Euro, and many things and could establish myself as the midfielder in Madrid—everyone had confidence in me. And you need that, you need to feel that at Madrid” he concluded.
If you would like to listen to the full interview, a link to the podcast has been provided below: