When Xabi Alonso looks back at his career, he will have played in one of the world’s greatest clubs, playing alongside the top players, and earning the best salaries. But the 35-year-old Spaniard, who has been a part of four different Champions League winners’ medal counts, knows that in his home country, he is regarded as not just a footballer but as a gentleman as well.
“I am always proud to have come from Barcelona and Real Madrid, but in Spain we have a more humble sporting background, more of a city base where I played and who to me is my main city,” Alonso told The Times. “I have always had a special relationship with Madrid and Spain — everything has been very positive. I think that is something that is maintained today in the locker room, with the people that are here, especially with Marco [Asensio] and Gareth [Bale].
“When we were young we all dreamed about the national team. It was with the national team that we really discovered the idea of the relationship that existed with Spain. That is why I think today it is different from when I first started playing with Real Madrid, just because when I left Madrid I was 23, the age that everybody started thinking about the idea of playing for the national team. As a 16-year-old, I was just thinking about going to Barcelona and winning with Barcelona.
“When I came to Real Madrid it was completely different. It was with Real Madrid that I saw all the dreams that people in Spain had, all the stories of the country. It was a special moment for me. I am lucky that now I have a different kind of language — no longer the Spanish language but English, which is important. But I still have to be in Spain and I have a lot of friends here.”