Xabi Alonso retired a few years ago after a superb career with Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
The former Spain international just oozed class and will rightly be remembered as one of Europe’s best central midfielders ever.
During a glittering career the Iberian maestro won almost every honour imaginable at both club and international level.
His passing ability is up there with the very best players the game has ever produced. We’ve compiled a list of 20 of the best quotes made by other footballing legends about Alonso, which sum up just how highly rated he was …
“I don’t remember a former youth team player causing such an impact at the club. Everyone seems to play better when he is on the pitch.” John Toshack.
“Alonso has fantastic ball distribution and sees football with extraordinary clarity.” Former Spain coach Inaki Saez
“It was clear Alonso was royalty after our first training session together in August 2004 … He was, by some distance, the best central midfielder I ever played alongside. If, totally hypothetically, I was going to become Liverpool manager one day I know who I’d love to have as my assistant: Xabi Alonso or Jamie Carragher.” Steven Gerrard.
“The pass master. Nobody can pass the ball like him. I remember on his debut at Anfield, it probably took him about 39 minutes before he misplaced a pass. Unbelievable player.” John Arne Riise.
“Xabi is very clever. He is good with long and short passes. He has more skill than strength and is intelligent.” Rafa Benitez.
“He is a quiet person and a lovely guy – a good team-mate. I don’t need to talk about him as a player; people know how good he is. He has got everything. He is one of the most complete midfielders in the world.” Pepe Reina.
“The first one that springs to mind is Xabi Alonso. I was devastated when he left for Real Madrid.” Jamie Carragher when asked about his best team-mate.
“Before the Champions League final we were in Portugal and we went go-karting. We went round and I come in and flew into the pit, obviously where you’re supposed to stop. I thought right I’ll just brake now. No brakes whatsoever… so I’ve seen [Xabi] Alonso and I’ve seen Kuyt and I thought who’s more valuable? So I’ve swerved into Kuyt.” Peter Crouch.
“He always told me to relax and use my brain. It didn’t always work” Jamie Carragher.
“Xabi Alonso is like a metronome, a player in the style of Xavi Hernández. I’m sure that when he hangs his boots up he’ll be a great coach. He reminds me of Pep Guardiola when he was a player: he already acts like a coach when he is on the field.” Jose Mourinho.
“Barcelona players are passing the ball at least 25 times to reach the goal, while Xabi Alonso is doing this all in a single pass.” Roberto Mancini.
“Xabi Alonso holds the key to everything. He is a very important player in this team, he has exceptional experience and qualities. He has that rare ability to see what is going to happen before it does.” Carlo Ancelotti.
“It’s very difficult to improve on what he has done. He leaves us with a fantastic legacy. He has been a great professional.” Spain Vicente del Bosque in 2014 after Alonso announced his international retirement.
“Xabi Alonso has incredible skills, passing and ball control. He has an eye for the game, he knows how to defend and he is physically strong. We will enjoy his time at the club.” Bayern Munich director Matthias Sammer.
“If we signed him to chase opponents, we should forget about him. He would be the worst player in the world. We signed him to dominate the game. Once Xabi has the ball, he is the best player.” Pep Guardiola.
“Xabi Alonso is an absolute world-class player. I wonder if the people at Real have asked themselves whether it was a good idea to let him go.” Jurgen Klopp.
“He gives tempo, something only midfielders of his quality can do. There’s not much I can teach Xabi.” Pep Guardiola.
Lived it. Loved it.
Farewell beautiful game. pic.twitter.com/1aSN7GGNzZ
— Xabi Alonso (@XabiAlonso) March 9, 2017
“Xabi Alonso played at Liverpool and Real Madrid for five years each. He was always world class and confirmed this at Bayern.” Jupp Heynckes.
“Alonso is slow, that’s true, but I was slow as a player as well. It’s not a negative characteristic. It’s important that the ball is circulated quickly and Xabi is one of the best at doing that.” Carlo Ancelotti.
“I’ve never seen another player with his ability to play such fantastic passes.” Mesut Ozil.