Player profile

Xabi Alonso

Birthdate: 25 November 1981
Birthplace: Tolosa, Spain
Other clubs: Real Sociedad (1998-2004), Eibar (loan 2000-01), Real Madrid (2009-)
Bought from: Real Sociedad
Signed for LFC: £10.7m, 20.08.2004
International debut: 30.04.2003 vs. Equador
International caps: 109/15 (49/5 at LFC) - 05.03.2014
Liverpool debut: 29.08.2004
Last appearance: 24.05.2009
Debut goal: 16.10.2004
Last goal: 25.04.2009
Contract expiry: 05.08.2009
Win ratio: 58.1% W: 122 D: 45 L: 43
LFC league games/goals: 143 / 15
Total LFC games/goals: 210 / 19

Player profile

Xabier Alonso Olano made his debut for Real Sociedad against Logrones on 1 December 1999 in Copa del Rey. He made 14 further appearances that season, but was then loaned out to second division Eibar. Sociedad were however struggling in the Primera Liga and new manager and former Liverpool great, John Toshack, recalled Alonso from his loan and in a shock move made the 19-year-old captain of the side. The team cemented their position in La Liga the following year and blossomed in the 2002/03 season, finishing two points behind champions Real Madrid. The respected football magazine ‘Don Balon’ chose Alonso Spanish Player of the Year. Alonso made his international debut against Equador on 30 April 2003 and featured against Russia and Portugal in Euro 2004, but Spain failed to get out of the group stages. Sociedad qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League, but got knocked out by Lyon and struggled in the league, finishing fifteenth. Rafa had seen enough of Xabi to convince him of the qualities he could bring to Liverpool: strong in defence and going forward and possessed an excellent passing range. If there ever was a player moulded in the Liverpool way, it was Alonso as he was comfortable in possession with the vision to spot passes and the ability to execute them. He was also a tough customer and maybe Rafa didn’t expect that he would boast one of the best rates of successful tackles in the Premiership.

Alonso made an instant impression at Liverpool, but suffered a broken ankle in the 2005 New Years’ Day clash against Chelsea and the difference in the team’s performance was noticeable. Alonso returned to the side three months later just in time to feature in the second leg of the quarter-final clash with Juventus in the Champions League when Liverpool drew 0-0 in Turin after beating them 2-1 at Anfield. Reds were concerned when he was banned for the second leg of semi-final against Chelsea at Anfield, after Gudjohnsen got him yellow-carded at Stamford Bridge. Fortunately his absence didn’t prevent Liverpool from reaching the final where he scored the equalising goal against Milan, pouncing on the rebound after seeing his penalty saved. Alonso was incredibly a European champion in his debut season at Liverpool. Alonso’s speciality became his extra-long-range strikes, scoring twice from inside his own half. His first effort was from 65 yards in the 5-3 FA Cup win over Luton in January 2006. In the 2005/06 season Alonso looked forward to an FA Cup final against West Ham. Unfortunately, he picked up an ankle injury in the last League game of the season, but convinced Rafa and the medical team that he was ready for the final. Alonso managed 67 minutes before he was taken off at the Millennium Stadium where Gerrard-inspired Liverpool went on to win a winners’ medal for him after conquering the Hammers in a penalty shoot-out. Alonso repeated this incredible feat of scoring from his own half, against Newcastle in September 2006 in a League game at Anfield. This time the distance was 70 yards and Steve Harper tried desperately to reach the shot, but to no avail. The Independent described it as “one of the most audacious goals in Anfield’s rich 115-year history.” Despite this wonder goal Alonso seemed to have lost his way a bit. His usually sublime passes were quite wayward and he didn’t contribute as he did before. Rafa kept faith with him in the 2006/07 season that ended disappointingly in Athens where Alonso featured in the 2-1 loss to Milan in the Champions League final.

The Basque played in fewer first-team competitive matches during his fourth season at Anfield than the season previous, just 27 out of a possible 59. He was picked from the start in the opening five League games and scored twice as promoted Derby County were thrashed 6-0 at Anfield on the first day of September. He was substituted due to a slight injury against Portsmouth in the middle of September and was out for six weeks. Alonso was rushed to action to face Arsenal on 28 October 2007 but limped off and missed seven weeks more. Rafa struggled to find a suitable midfield combination in his absence rotating between Sissoko, Mascherano and Lucas to partner Gerrard. When Alonso returned Benítez accommodated him alongside the respective holding midfielder by moving Gerrard further forward as a second striker behind Fernando Torres. Alonso played 163 minutes in Spain’s successful Euro 2008 tournament and came on as substitute in the sixty-third minute in the final against Germany. After the tournament speculation was rife that Alonso would be moving on from Liverpool with Gareth Barry the man expected to take his place. In the end Barry’s transfer from Aston Villa never happened and Alonso went on to have perhaps his best season as a Liverpool player, making 47 first-team appearances and scoring five times, including the goal that ended Chelsea’s record-breaking unbeaten home run in the League. His tenacity was back, prompting his opponents to foul him on a constant basis, which resulted in six sending-offs for fouls made on him! Benítez’s willingness to sell him on a year previously lingered and soured their relationship. Real Madrid were monitoring the situation and Alonso wanted to return home to Spain. Liverpool agreed to sell the midfielder to Madrid for a fee that is believed to be around £30 million, certainly a significant profit on the £10.7million Liverpool paid Real Sociedad for Alonso’s services in 2004.

Alonso only missed four La Liga matches as Real finished runners-up to Barcelona and three points behind their Catalan rivals in his debut season. Alonso had a happy summer as he started every game as Spain won the World Cup after beating the Netherlands in the final. The 2010/11 season followed a similar pattern as the first, in that Alonso played in 34 of the 38 league matches as Madrid again finished runners-up to Barcelona. Real did, however, win a stormy Copa del Rey final by beating their Catalan rivals 1-0 at Valencia’s Mestalla stadium. Alonso was Jose Mourinho’s playmaker extraordinaire in the 2011/12 campaign when Real finally managed to wrestle the Spanish championship away from Barcelona, who had held it for the previous three years.

In 2012-13 Alonso took his total of first-team appearances for Real Madrid close to the two hundred mark. But the defending Spanish champions were unable to retain their title. Alonso was a member of the Madrid team that knocked Manchester United out of the Champions League at Old Trafford at the Last 16 stage of the competition. But Borussia Dortmund ended Alonso's hope of a second winners' medal by narrowly defeating Real on aggregate in the semi-final. 

Appearances per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals143124483210
2004-2005 24008032
2005-2006 355011253
2006-2007 321215151
2007-2008 19314027
2008-2009 333110047

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

TotalOpponent
20Chelsea
13Arsenal
10Everton
9Portsmouth
9Aston Villa
8Middlesbrough
8Bolton Wanderers
8Blackburn Rovers
8Tottenham
7West Ham United
7Fulham
7Newcastle United
7Manchester United
6WBA
6Wigan Athletic
5PSV Eindhoven
5Birmingham City
5Charlton Athletic
5Sunderland
4Manchester City
3Luton Town
2Derby
2Hull City
2Anderlecht
2Real Madrid
2Standard Liege
2Watford
2Barcelona
2Benfica
2AC Milan
2Atletico Madrid
2Galatasaray
2Olympiacos
2Deportivo
2Bordeaux
2TNS
2Maccabi Haifa
2Reading
1FBK Kaunas
1CSKA Moscow
1Deportivo Sap.
1Sao Paolo
1Marseille
1Monaco
1Real Betis
1CSKA Sofia
1Barnsley
1Crystal Palace
1Juventus
1Sheffield United
1Stoke City
1Norwich City
1Southampton
1Preston North End
Total Started/substitutions
181 Started
15 On the bench
29 Substitute
33 Substituted

Goals per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals15202019
2004-2005 200103
2005-2006 320005
2006-2007 400004
2007-2008 200002
2008-2009 400105

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

TotalStarted/substitutions
16Started
3Substitute
TotalCompetition
15Premier League
2Champions League
2FA Cup
TotalGoal minute period
21-15 minutes
416-30 minutes
231-45 minutes
146-60 minutes
461-75 minutes
676-90 minutes
091-120
TotalOpen play/Penalty
16Open play
3Penalty

Wartime Appearances / Goals

SeasonAppearancesGoals
No records to display.

Stats note

The Premier League's "Dubious Goals Panel" decided that the deflection of Alonso's shot in the Chelsea - Liverpool game on 26.10.2008 was sufficient for the goal to be shown as an own-goal by Chelsea defender Bosingwa. However Liverpool Football Club's stance is that Alonso's goal remains with the Liverpool player.

Milestone Appearances

#DateAgainstStadiumCompetition
129.08.2004Bolton WanderersReebok StadiumLeague
5001.11.2005AnderlechtAnfieldEurope
10028.10.2006Aston VillaAnfieldLeague
15016.02.2008BarnsleyAnfieldFA Cup
20010.03.2009Real MadridAnfieldEurope

Milestone Goals

#MinuteDateAgainstStadiumCompetition
17916.10.2004FulhamCraven CottageLeague

Related Articles

Xabi Alonso is key to imposing style that lets Real Madrid stars shine

Sid Lowe in the Guardian 28 August 2009. More

Adios Alonso by Paul Tomkins

LFChistory.net is excited to be publishing Paul Tomkins' blogs from now on. He's the best columnist there is on all matters concerning Liverpool FC and has written quite a number of books on the club.More

Rafael Benítez rewarded with £30m as Xabi Alonso seals Madrid move

Xabi Alonso successfully pressured Madrid into forcing through the deal by handing in a formal transfer request.More

Xabi Alonso chats with Jan Molby

From Guillem Balague.com on 31st March 2009.More

Interview with Xabi Alonso from AS

With thanks to "AnotherSpanishFan" here's an interview from Spanish newspaper AS translated. Originally published on This is Anfield. More

Family values leave Basque brothers feeling at home

An interview by Guillem Balague with Mikel and Xabi Alonso on 8 October 2007.More

You'll never get past Sissoko! - comparison with Alonso

Statistically it is difficult to measure the worth of midfielders as clean sheets and goals are not the fairest measure of a working midfielder who wins the ball and distributes it to team mates.More

A glorious effort!

Match report from Liverpool - Newcastle on 20.09.2006 by Dominic Fifield for The Guardian.More

Echoes of another epic as Liverpool forced to treat Luton like Milan

The Guardian on Luton - Liverpool.More

Punter wins 25,000 pounds on Alonso's goal

An article from Daily Mail.More

Club class

Liverpool enter the Fifa Club World Championship with Xabi Alonso keen to make his mark. By Jonathan Northcroft at Sunday Times 11th December 2005.More

Clever Xabi sets the pass mark

Guillem Balague's article about Xabi Alonso on Sunday May 22, 2005 in The Observer. More

Related Quotes

"I've never seen anyone pass the ball as well as Xabi. It's like watching another version of Stevie Gerrard. He is a great, great player. It's amazing he's only 22-years-old. He may have cost £10m but he looks worth every penny of that."

Riise in September 2004

"The more I watch Benítez’ £10m investment, Xabi Alonso, the more I marvel. Why am I surprised that such a young man, who studies the game so intently, should be improving while still four years from the start of his prime? I shouldn't. He is getting stronger, reads the game superbly, passes sublimely, and tackles assuredly and bravely."

Paul Tomkins in his column on liverpoolfc.tv in the 2005-2006 season

"There was a real suspense surrounding my penalty - it was like something out of a Hitchcock movie!"

Xabi Alonso on the penalty he missed to bring Liverpool level, only to net the rebound in Istanbul

"I don't remember a former youth team player causing such an impact at the club. Everyone seems to play better when he is on the pitch and there is no doubt that he is going to be a very important player for Real Sociedad."

John Toshack was Real Sociedad's coach when Alonso made his Sociedad debut

The sale of Arbeloa, Hyypia and Alonso was an important loss. Alvaro was a player who did a vital job for us, always played to a high level and his flexibility was a huge bonus. Sami may not have played every week but he was a 10 out of 10 on and off the pitch, bringing calm to the ground and having everyone's admiration. And Xabi … players like Xabi are very rare. He was the team's engine and you know that when you change an engine, it takes time to work again.

Torres on Liverpool's downfall in the 2009-2010 season

I am still a Liverpool fan and will be forever, absolutely. The things that I have lived and the experiences I had during those five years are deep in my heart and the passion and respect I had for the club and its supporters are still the same. Hopefully I can transmit to my son what Liverpool Football Club means and how special it is, as he was born in the city.

Xabi Alonso in The Times in 2011

The player was in the squad the following season

SeasonShirt #Position
2004-2005 14 Midfielder
2005-2006 14 Midfielder
2006-2007 14 Midfielder
2007-2008 14 Midfielder
2008-2009 14 Midfielder
* Note, Since the 1993-94 season players have been allocated a fixed number.

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