Xabi Alonso opens up on Istanbul, El Clasico and life at Sociedad

Xabi Alonso opens up to Jamie Carragher on being ‘EMBARRASSED’ at half-time in Istanbul against AC Milan, the ‘worst night he’s ever lived on a football pitch’ in El Clasico and now enjoying being out of the spotlight at Real Sociedad

  • Ex-Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso appeared on Jamie Carragher’s podcast
  • The former team-mates reflected on the dramatic 2005 Champions League final
  • Recalling half-time, Alonso said he returned to the dressing room ’embarrassed’
  • He also opened up on his ‘worst night in football’ while playing for Real Madrid 

Xabi Alonso rolled back the years with former Liverpool team-mate Jamie Carragher and he was left reflecting on how he was left ’embarrassed’ in the 2005 Champions League final at half-time. 

Liverpool were 3-0 down to AC Milan in Istanbul and Alonso recalled seeing looks of resignation on the faces of team-mates as they returned to the dressing room at the break.

‘I was angry at myself thinking, “we can’t throw it away so easily, this is a beautiful chance”,’ Alonso told Carragher’s Greatest Game podcast. 

Xabi Alonso (third from left) opened up to Jamie Carragher (second from left) on the embarrassment he was feeling at half-time in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final

Alonso missed the penalty at 3-2 before racing to the rebound to even the scores in Istanbul

‘I was kind of embarrassed with what we were doing. More than thinking about the others it was painful, that was first (how I felt). Later, Rafa (Benitez) changed. I thought “let’s see how this works”.  

‘To hear the boos from the fans was important because they didn’t want to kill us but we thought let’s try and give them something to believe, try to have some hope.’ 

It remains one of Liverpool’s most famous nights as Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Alonso himself scored in six second half minutes to tie the final at 3-3.

Alonso remembers stepping up to take the penalty at 3-2 and while he missed the spot-kick, it was the ‘the quickest five metres’ of his career to score the rebound.

The Spaniard was effusive in his praise of a night he described as nothing short of a ‘miracle’ but his chat with ex-team-mate Carragher extended beyond just his time at Anfield.

Rafa Benitez altered his set-up in the second-half and Liverpool produced the comeback

Alonso went on to play for Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, as well as win a European Championships and a World Cup with Spain.

His time in Spain saw him come up against Pep Guardiola’s formidable Barcelona team, which has been viewed by many as the best assembled team in recent decades.

There was a lot of aggression in those Clasico meetings between Real Madrid and Barcelona and Alonso is still haunted by one episode in 2010-11 in Jose Mourinho’s first season in charge.

His time at Real Madrid brought the ‘worst night’ he ever endured in his professional career

The Spanish midfielder was given the runaround by Messi and Co in a damning 5-0 defeat

Alonso started at the base of a midfield alongside Sami Khedira but, along with his team-mates, he was given a brutal reality check as Guardiola’s side cantered to a 5-0 win.

‘We knew in that moment if we were too nice they were going to kill us,’ he said. 

‘The league game in Camp Nou we lost 5-0 and that was the worst night I’ve ever lived on a football pitch. After 20 minutes I wanted to leave, to go home, shower and to go home. 

‘It was so painful. It gave us a big determination. We couldn’t be too nice or we wouldn’t have beaten them (the next season).’  

Alonso is in an exclusive club of having worked under both Mourinho and Guardiola in his playing career and now embarking on his own journey into football, he was quizzed on who he resembles closest.

Alonso admits he is happy to stay out of the limelight as manager of Real Sociedad’s B team

While he skirted around the question, Alonso, who is the manager of Real Sociedad’s B team, simply said he is enjoying being out of the spotlight right now.

‘I don’t want it to come too early (a big job),’ he explained. ‘I am still young. I want to take steps and build knowledge of the game, make mistakes and learn how to correct them.’

Alonso was linked with the vacant Borussia Monchengladbach job earlier this season before penning new terms to stay at his hometown club and there was every indication in this chat with Carragher that he is happy to play the long game with his ‘second’ career.  

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