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Profile: Xabi Alonso

Leader, trendsetter and a man of the world

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His name is known and revered throughout the footballing world: Xabier Alonso Olano a.k.a. Xabi Alonso, widely regarded as one of the top players on the planet, is now at FC Bayern. He is a World Cup winner and two-time European champion with Spain, and a Champions League winner in 2005 and 2014. Xabi Alonso knows how to win titles and now at the age of 32 he is seeking a new challenge at FCB.

The son of Periko Alonso was very young when he left home to make his way in the wide world. When he was 22 – five years after making his debut – he left Basque club Real Sociedad for life in the Premier League with Liverpool. Alonso proved to be a great success in England. He will always be remembered for helping the Reds turn round a 3-0 deficit at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan and go on to win the premier European club competition on penalties.

'El Profesor', as he is known back home, is a leader and a boss. He demonstrated that after his move to Real Madrid (2009) where he became a key player in midfield. The Real game lacked stability whenever Alonso, with his trademark beard, was sidelined through injury or suspension.

International career over

Alonso played an important part in Real Madrid's success last term. Bayern fans will have painful memories of the 4-0 second leg defeat in the Champions League semi-final against Real when Alonso pulled the strings with accurate passing, his strength in challenges and his technical quality. He missed the hard-fought victory in the final against local rivals Atlético due to a one-match ban.

Alonso will be 33 in November. The Spaniard knows he needs to give his body a rest from time to time. So he decided to hang up his boots for Spain – after an impressive 114 internationals. Alonso, a lover of culture and a model for an Italian fashion house, wants to focus completely on his new job. In Munich. At FC Bayern.