Xabi Alonso has given a lengthy and superb interview with the Guardian’s Simon Hughes. We’d urge you to read the whole thing; it’s utterly engaging – but for us – this small portion stood out!
The Spaniard spent five years on Merseyside, between 2004 and 2009, establishing himself as part of the Anfield furniture under Rafa Benitez. He had a wonderful on-field relationship with Steven Gerrard, who along with Javier Mascherano, formed the ‘best midfield in the world,’ as Liverpool fans will so fondly remember.
But interestingly, it was Jamie Carragher who Alonso got on with best, because they shared an encyclopedic, obsessive love of football.
They didn’t always agree with each other, of course!
“Carra [Jamie Carragher], Stevie, Sami and Didi [Hamman] were all huge influences on everyone else,” he began.
“All different characters, strong personalities. When each one of them spoke, I listened. They helped me improve as a player and as a person, and when I went back to Spain to play for the national team I felt a lot stronger through the experiences shared with them.
“I liked Carra the most. He is the biggest Scouser in the world. We got on well from day one. I think he realised that I loved football and he loves football too. We would watch games together and talk about it every day. I think he respected that I would enter arguments with him. He was always very loud; you could hear his voice above everyone else’s. I would say, ‘Carra, shut the fuck up, you have no idea!’ He liked all of that: the confrontation.”
Letting go of Alonso in 2009 after trying to force him out in 2008 was Benitez’s biggest mistake as Liverpool manager. Since his departure, he’s dominated the midfield for Real Madrid and now Bayern Munich under the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola – the three most high profile managers in the world – all of whom picked him automatically.
Despite turning 35 in a few months, Alonso still starts for Bayern – a testament to his other worldly talent.
It’s a shame we’ll never see him back at Anfield, but should we qualify for the Champions League under Jurgen Klopp, we’d love to draw Bayern Munich, just to welcome him back one last time.