Xabier Alonso Olano, commonly known as Xabi Alonso (born 25
November 1981), is a Spanish Basque footballer who currently
plays his club football at Liverpool F.C. in England. He wears
the number 14 shirt at Liverpool and is a midfielder.
He was signed by Rafael Benitez, the then newly appointed
manager of Liverpool, from Real Sociedad for a fee of £10.5m.
Prior to Real Sociedad, he played for SD Eibar. Alonso is
considered by many to be one of the young stars of Spanish
football and a considerable talent and played for his country at
Alonso came through the youth ranks at Real Sociedad and made
his debut for the San Sebastian outfit in the 1999/2000 season.
His first match was against Logrones on the 1st of December 1999
in a Copa del Rey game. He made 14 further appearances that
The following season, in 2000/2001, Xabi spent the first part of
the campaign on loan at minnows SD Eibar before returning to
Real Sociedad later that season to break into the first team.
Season 2002/2003 was the campaign when Xabi Alonso came to
prominence as a star in the making and was a key performer as
Real Sociedad finished second in La Liga behind champions Real
Madrid. He scored 8 goals in 34 games.
Alonso was called up to the Spain national team for the first
time in 2003 and made his debut at the age of 21 in a 4-0
friendly win over Ecuador.
Alonso arrived at Liverpool from Real Sociedad for a fee in the
region of £10.5 million in August 2004.
Xabi Alonso made his Premiership debut for Liverpool against
Bolton Wanderers at The Reebok Stadium on 29 August 2004, a game
that Liverpool lost 1-0. His first goal for Liverpool came from
a free-kick against Fulham on 16 October 2004. Liverpool were
losing 2-0 at half-time, but Alonso's arrival as a substitute
inspired a revival and an eventual 4-2 win.
Although a newcomer to the English league, Alonso has impressed
with his exceptional range of passing and vision. After an
initial settling in, he established himself as one of the
mainstays of Liverpool's midfield. He has become a permanent
fixture of Benitez's sides and has endeared many fans with his
long range passing ability, and his deft touches to open
opposition teams up.
After breaking his ankle following a tackle from Frank Lampard
in Liverpool's 1-0 defeat to Chelsea on New Year's Day 2005,
Alonso was ruled out of action for over 3 months. He made his
return earlier than expected in the second leg of the Champions
League quarter-final against Juventus. In the absence of skipper
Steven Gerrard through suspension Alonso played for all 90
minutes as Liverpool gained an improbable 0-0 draw in Italy to
defeat the eventual Italian Champions on aggregate. Gerrard
would later repay the favour to Alonso in the very next round -
when Alonso was himself suspended from the second leg of the
semi-final against Chelsea, Gerrard steered Liverpool to a 1-0
win with the help of a Luis Garcia goal, putting Liverpool in
the Final against Milan.
In the Champions League Final, Alonso played a crucial role as
Liverpool completed an incredible comeback from 3-0 down at half-time
to level the scores at 3-3. At 3-2, Liverpool were awarded a
penalty, which Alonso stepped up to take. While Dida, Milan's
Brazilian goalkeeper, managed to save the penalty, Alonso fired
the rebound into the roof of the net, making it 3-3. Liverpool
went on to win the European Cup on penalties, capping a
successful first year for Xabi Alonso in England.
On January 7, 2006, in a thrilling F.A. Cup Third Round tie
against Luton Town, Alonso assisted Liverpool to a 5-3 comeback
victory, after being down 3-1 early in the second half, by
scoring two amazing goals, one from 40 yards and the other from
well inside his own half (65 yards).