Xabi Alonso: My time at Bayern had a big influence on me
Xabi Alonso scored nine goals in 117 competitive appearances as a player for FC Bayern between 2014 and 2017. The 41-year-old Spaniard now faces his former club for the first time as a coach when his Bayer Leverkusen side host FCB in the Bundesliga on Sunday. Alonso’s side are unbeaten in six games ahead of taking on the league leaders. We spoke with him ahead of the reunion with his former club and midfield successor Joshua Kimmich, while he also explains why he returned to the Bundesliga as a coach.
Interview with Xabi Alonso
Servus Xabi, you’re facing Bayern as a coach for the first time on Sunday – the club where you spent the final three years of your playing career. To what extent is it a special game for you?
Xabi Alonso: “I have great memories of my time in Munich. It’ll be nice to see familiar faces and old friends again, but my focus is fully on the game.”
Is there anything specific from your time as a player at Bayern that you particularly like looking back on?
“I happily remember my years in Munich. It was a special time from the first day till the last. I finished my career as a player there. It was something special for all of us. The memories are all very positive.”
You played with several of Bayern’s current players. Does that make preparing for Sunday’s game easier?
“No. They’re all great players and currently in good form. Yes, I know them, but that doesn’t make it easier. Our goal is to stop the players and make the game as tough as possible for our opponent.”
Can you give your players advice about what it’ll come down to against Bayern?
“Yes, obviously I can, but these things are always easier said than done. We’ll give our best.”
Joshua Kimmich now plays in your old position. Do you see parallels between him and you?
“In terms of the position, yes. When I saw Joshua for the first time, I knew he’d have a great future, just based on the way he plays, his personality and his character. He’s developed really well. His passes are special, just like the way he distributes the ball and his game intelligence. I like how he plays. The way he’s playing right now, he’s a super player.”
What was the main reason you accepted a job as coach in the Bundesliga?
“It’s to do with my experience as a player in the Bundesliga and my last years I spent at Bayern. That time had a big influence on me. I knew this would be a good step in my coaching career, and I’m very happy in Leverkusen.”
What do you think is still possible with Bayer Leverkusen this season?
“Lots is possible. It’s down to us. We always expect the best from us. We want to improve every day, in the Bundesliga and in the Europa League.”
🗞 Find out more about the game against Leverkusen in our preview: