Xabi Alonso at Diario Vasco
A few days before he returns to his former team and hometown, Xabi spoke with Diario Vasco about the battle between the “Reales.” As usual, he has interesting things to say and gives thoughtful, diplomatic answers. If human cloning were possible, I’d clone a couple of Xabis for the team and one for myself.
Your team is coming here during their best moment of the season…
We’re good. We’ve played a series of consecutive good games. We’re not only winning but also controlling the games well, which helps you to grow as a team. But coming here in the best moment doesn’t mean anything.
You’re missing a league title in your trophy cabinet. Will it be this year?
I hope so. Let’s see if we can complete the collection a bit, because I’ve won a World Cup, an Eurocopa, the Champions, various cups and Supercups, but I’m missing a league title. The second place I achieved with la Real is almost worth one but…
You’re the player who has played the most minutes. What does Mourinho give to you?
The míster and I communicate well and he gives me responsibility. He considers this position an important one, and due to my seniority, he wants me to transmit to the rest the way I read the games and what will be the best for us in each moment.
So you won’t be resting in the Anoeta…
I don’t need rest, much less during the game in the Anoeta.
In a few days, you’ll turn 30. What do you feel when you look back at the past and remember your beginnings with la Real?
Nostalgia and what a great time I had. There was a lot of tension in all the games, like the ones with Real Madrid now, because in those years, we were always playing for something, whether it was to win or to stay alive, such as that campaign in which we almost won the Liga. I had the luck of fitting in with a group that helped me with many things, which in turn helped me to integrate and begin to grow as a footballer. I remember Aranzabal, Idiakez, De Pedro… they taught me what this job is like. For young players, it’s important to have veterans that know how to transmit their knowledge of how to compete in the first division and the values of the club. Illarramendi, Iñigo Martínez, Griezmann and the rest have good role models in Aranburu, Xabi Prieto or Llorente.
What is left of that Xabi?
The most important thing. The effort to try to do things well, the competitive gene, to be a good professional, to be constant, to put the collective good above personal gain… my objective is not to shine individually, but to improve those who play with me. When I see those around me playing well and enjoying themselves, I’m satisfied.
Has time passed by quickly?
When I look back, I tell myself, “I can’t believe 12 years have passed since I debuted with la Real!” I’ve lived through all the stages with a lot of intensity and perhaps for that, they did pass by quickly.
What part of those years would you change if you could?
Very few things. I believe I’ve been very fortunate. But, logically, winning that Liga with la Real in 2003. We were so close to achieving that miracle, and it will always be a thorn in my side. It would have been something great… almost comparable to those Ligas in the 1980s, although winning a title in the 21st century is much more difficult than during that time, in my opinion.
How many years of football do you have left?
I don’t know, because sometimes you have one idea in mind and later on, it falls apart. I have this year and two more left with Real Madrid. My contract ends when I’m 32 and then we’ll see. Perhaps I’ll be so worn out that I’ll dedicate myself to padel. Let’s see if in those years I can win some big titles. And a Liga, of course.
Do you see yourself as a coach in the future?
Some days yes, some days no. Sometimes I believe I’d like to try that out. I’ve had the luck of coinciding with very prepared coaches and I’d like to apply everything I’ve seen and experienced to something. I also know what it’s like to be a player on the field and I have a way of viewing football that can help me to coach. On the other hand, I’ve seen at home what it means to be a coach and I have a lot of respect for this position. It’s not only knowing about tactics. You have to know how to manage many other things. First, I would have to prepare myself very well. On other days, I think I have to find a different path to go down to see what will result.
Several players on la Real are getting their coaching licenses…
And some teammates here are getting their sporting director licenses. I know that Xabi Prieto and some others are doing it with Mikel Etxarri in Zubieta. For the moment, I have enough on my plate with playing and with my family.
Have you spoken with anyone from la Real about the game?
Not yet, but I’m sure I will with Xabi Prieto, with Aranburu and some of the others.
You know that a Tambor de Oro winner can’t score a goal against la Real, right?
They didn’t tell me that when they gave it to me (laughs). In any case, something very strange will have to happen for me to score a goal, because I’m not a great goalscorer. I prefer not to think about that, although if it happens, it happens.
Will you celebrate it?
No, I couldn’t. I’ve lived through so many things with la Real…
What can you tell us about Iñigo Martínez and Illarramendi? You praised the former for his golazo against Athletic…
I already said that for me, that was the best goal ever scored in La Anoeta. I have a special weakness for that type of shot and I’ve never had one go for me like his against Athletic. I admired it so much that I commented about it on twitter. In England, I have scored a goal like this one from a long distance, but not yet in the Liga.
[Some talk about la Real.]
In a separate article, Xabi also gives some great insight into his connection with la Real and his beloved Donosti. Xabi says, “it’s strange for me to be in Donosti with another team, to pass by the streets in which I loved for so many years while on the Real Madrid bus. Some, like Cristiano, Marcelo, Pepe, Khedira or even Mourinho, hadn’t been to the city before and they were impressed. They told me, “you live in such a cool city!” Mou loved the beach and he asked me about the Palacio Miramar. In addition, since we were staying at the Hotel Monte Igueldo, the views were spectacular.”
Xabi loves spending time in Donostia: “in the summer, I love to go down to the beach to exercise and sweat a little before going for a swim. There’s nothing like swimming out to the float and relaxing there. I like to do that at the end of the afternoon when the beach is emptying. You’re like a new person afterward. And then, on the way home, a good ice cream. Especially during the Semana Grande. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I’ve had the time to go, although this year I can’t complain because at least I was able to spend the eve there. When you live outside, you have to take advantage of each moment.”
As for his realista friends, Xabi says, “yes, these days they’re teasing me a lot. They’re with la Real to the death and they’re capable of even booing me.”
Seriously, why am I not in País Vasco yet? But I have a dilemma – Donostia is much more beautiful, but Bilbao has Javi (!!!), for a different kind of beauty. Which one should I choose?