Donosti gets a little more perfect*
The perfection that is Xabi Alonso and Nagore Aranburu traveled to Donostia yesterday so that Xabi could receive the 2011 Tambor de Oro (Golden Drum) award, in a ceremony that kicked off the city’s annual Tamborrada festival (the ceremony is usually held on Jan. 20, but was moved up by one day for the first time ever so that Xabi could attend. That shows just how important Xabi Alonso is to the city!).
And yes, that’s him as a seven-year-old Tamborrada participant on the left.
The mayor of the Donostia, Odón Elorza, presented Xabi with the award, the highest one given out by the city government to the best ambassador of the city in the past year. He described Xabi as “a man with great human values” and “an example for millions of children because he represents the values that any city would desire – sacrifice, caring, team work, passion and creativity.” So true, all of it!
Xabi, for his part, called it “the most beautiful and beloved award anyone could receive” after a “special year” in which his daughter Ane was born and Spain won the World Cup, and had affectionate words for the two clubs of the city that formed him as a footballer, Antiguoko and Real Sociedad. He also revealed that he participated in the Tamborrada as a kid, and that even while living in Liverpool, he kept Donostian drums at home.
Xabi’s wife, his parents and grandmothers were all in attendance, along with that lucky woman, the president of the Basque parliament, Arantza Quiroga (she said that she’s proud that her children’s idol is Xabi). Xabi thanked his family by saying the following. To his grandmothers: “thank you for coming today looking so beautiful and elegant, and because you have been my favorite cooks from the time I was small.” To his parents and brothers: “thank you for being a professional and personal example for me.” And to Nagore (once again, I love how he’s looking at her):
Thank you for all these intense years that we’ve shared together, for always being there for me, for the two children that we have together, because that’s the greatest project of our lives.
(Yes, I’ll wait while you get a stiff drink/eat some chocolate/buy a pair of expensive shoes so that you can make it through the rest of this post.)
Xabi also thanked Madrid for giving him permission to attend. Before the ceremony ended, a video was shown with images of Xabi’s life and career, and with a congratulatory message from Vicente del Bosque as the icing on the cake. After the act, Mr. Perfect went out to greet some children that were taking part in the festival. He was back on a plane at 20:30h to get to Madrid’s concentración as quickly as possible – he arrived at 21:45h and it started at 22h.
Some facts you may not have known about Xabi: he was born while Periko was playing a Copa del Rey game with la Real. When he played football with Mikel as a kid, he would have to be the goalkeeper because he was younger. And as a seven-year-old (the first picture in the post), Xabi Alonso was a sapper in one of the Tamborrada companies because “I was too small to play a drum and they wouldn’t let me, so I could only be a sapper, with the axe on my shoulder. The next year, I got to play. I paraded with my friends from school, and had a great time. I will never forget those moments…”
Real Madrid’s web site and TV channel followed Xabi throughout the day. At Barajas airport for his 15:30h flight, Xabi confessed that he was nervous, and he didn’t know what to expect. Once in San Sebastián, Periko Alonso said, “It’s a special day, I’m almost as emotional as my son… As a kid, he was a little rascal and he always went to see who got the award. Now it’s him that’s there.”
In an interview, Xabi said the following:
Q: How was your day?
A: It was very emotional; I can’t describe what I was feeling. All of it was great, and it really touched me. This is the maximum and I’m so grateful to everyone. Before the ceremony, I didn’t want to know too much about how it would go, so that it would impact me even more.
Q: You had a lot of supporters there.
A: Everyone that knows me well was there. My parents, my wife, my grandparents, my cousins… I also want to thank the club and the city government.
Q: Did you ever think you would receive this honor?
A: Never. I also never thought I would play for Real Madrid.
Q: What have you told your teammates about the Tambor de Oro?
A: They’ve asked me about it since it was announced. I explained to them that on San Sebastián Day, the drums come out onto the streets for the Tamborrada and each year they honor a city ambassador. And this year, it was me.
Q: So now you’re an ambassador. What’s special about San Sebastián?
A: The best thing for people to do is to go there and get to know the city themselves. But the atmosphere, the people, the views, the food and the quality of life are incomparable. I took my first kicks at the ball at the Playa de la Concha. That’s where we all started playing football.
Q: During the ceremony, they put a chef’s apron on you…
A: I love gastronomy and cooking. I like all types of food. Hake jaw, pork chops… I enjoy good food and we have a lot of great chefs here such as Berasategui, Arzak and Arguiñano.
* To me, it’s already one of the most perfect cities in Spain, in one of the most perfect regions in the world, and not just for the men it’s produced! Like Xabi said, if you have a chance, go experience it yourself! (Jaja, with this promotion, maybe I can win the Tambor de Oro in the future!)