The storied career of Xabi Alonso came to an end when the midfield maestro said goodbye to the footballing world alongside Phillip Lahm as a player of FC Bayern Munich.
In an exclusive interview with The Athletic, Alonso detailed his formidable career, including what it was like to work with Pep Guardiola at FC Bayern.
At the age of thirty-two, Alonso made the move to the Allianz Arena on a two-year contract, which was later extended for a third year at Die Roten. Talking of his move to Bayern, the Spaniard revealed that he “was so curious to find out [Guardiola’s] secrets” and learn from his new manager.
The midfielder enjoyed life under the Catalonian. Guardiola made the players “feel like we knew the opponent better than they knew themselves.” Extensive preparation and “micro-details” were a staple of Guardiola’s managerial methods and success. Alonso remembered how much the players gave for Guardiola:
Football seasons are long but right until the very end, Pep never seemed to be tired. He was alert, always ready. For the players, maybe this gave us an extra few metres in our legs when it mattered most.”
Alonso admits he “suffered” when playing against Jurgen Klopp and Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker.
It was like he [Klopp] wanted you to be in a cage. He wanted to trap you. His Dortmund was waiting to get you in that square behind the strikers and in front of the midfielders. There was an organised pressure. Their strikers involved wingers but they did not play like proper wingers. They would run infield and try to steal the ball from you. I was under pressure all the time. I enjoyed the mood around those games because they were so important but the challenge of beating Dortmund was immense. I didn’t enjoy playing against them because they made it so intense, you’d almost break.
One hundred and seventeen appearances, three Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal, and one DFL-Supercup. Aging like fine wine, Xabi Alonso hung up his boots with Bavarian success. He now is climbing the coaching ladder, already overseeing Real Sociedad’s B team.