In the latest instalment of our series taking a closer look at the elite group of players to have made 100 or more UEFA Champions League appearances, we peruse the career of two-time winner Xabi Alonso.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 100 CLUB

Appearances

Liverpool: 47
Real Madrid: 47
Bayern: 25
Real Sociedad: 8

Goals

Liverpool: 2
Bayern: 3
Real Sociedad: 1


Watch highlights from the 2005 Champions League final

Best performance

Winner (Liverpool 2005)

If you don’t remember him …

Not a player given to hogging the limelight, Xabi Alonso was regarded as the junior partner to Steven Gerrard in the Liverpool midfield, and was not the brightest star in a Real Madrid side that included Cristiano Ronaldo. However, team-mates and fans recognised the relentless quality La Barba Roja (Redbeard) delivered to all of his clubs, tidying up in a defensive midfield position and keeping the ball moving as the king of the deep-lying playmakers.

How he made it to 100 appearances …

Xabi Alonso was suspended for the 2014 final


Xabi Alonso was suspended for the 2014 final©Getty Images

Xabi Alonso was one of Rafael Benítez’s first signings at Anfield when he joined Liverpool in summer 2004, and the Real Sociedad captain showed his value as he helped the Reds to win the UEFA Champions League in dramatic fashion that season. He remained a Liverpool regular until he joined Real Madrid in 2009, Gerrard saying he was “devastated” when his midfield partner moved on.

He did not score in his 47 UEFA Champions League games at Real Madrid, but fans had no complaints. However, he was probably less than delighted when he missed the 2014 UEFA Champions League final through suspension. He brought up his 100 at Bayern, where Josep Guardiola called him “one of the best midfielders I’ve ever seen in my life” and made his final apperances back at his first club, Real Sociedad.

His best moments …

  • Alonso was pivotal in the ‘Miracle if Istanbul’ with the last of Liverpool’s three goals in six mad minutes against Milan in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final. Initially denied from the penalty spot by Dida, he had the presence of mind to follow up and fire the rebound into the roof of the net to make it 3-3. The Reds, famously, would go on to clinch the trophy on penalties.
See Xabi Alonso's double for Spain against France in 2012


See Xabi Alonso’s double for Spain against France in 2012

  • Liverpool’s rivalry with Chelsea in the 2000s was intense and Alonso struck one of the most meaningful blows. It may not have been his most spectacular goal – his 60-metre strike against Newcastle in 2006 surely scooping that honour – but his deflected effort at Stamford Bridge earned Rafael Benítez’s men a 1-0 win and ended the Blues’ four-year, 86-match unbeaten home run.
  • As if winning his 100th cap in a UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final was not enough of an achievement, Alonso scored both goals as Spain beat France in a competitive game for the first time. Eight days later, he would get his hands on the trophy for a second time as Spain’s golden generation made it three consecutive successes at major tournaments.

What others said about him …

“It was clear Alonso was royalty after our first training session together in August 2004. He was, by some distance, the best central midfielder I ever played alongside.”
Steven Gerrard, former Liverpool midfielder

“Nobody can pass the ball like him. I remember on his debut at Anfield, it probably took him about 39 minutes before he misplaced a pass. Unbelievable player.”
John Arne Riise, former Liverpool midfielder

Xabi Alonso won three Bundesliga titles at Bayern


Xabi Alonso won three Bundesliga titles at Bayern©AFP/Getty Images

“People know how good he is. He has got everything. He is one of the most complete midfielders in the world.”
Pepe Reina, former Liverpool goalkeeper

“Before the [2007] Champions League final we were in Portugal and we went go-karting. We went round and I come in and flew into the pit, obviously where you’re supposed to stop. I thought right I’ll just brake now. No brakes whatsoever… so I’ve seen Alonso and I’ve seen [Dirk] Kuyt and I thought who’s more valuable? So I’ve swerved into Kuyt.”
Peter Crouch, former Liverpool forward

“Xabi Alonso played at Liverpool and Real Madrid for five years each. He was always world class and confirmed this at Bayern.”
Jupp Heynckes, former Bayern coach

“Xabi Alonso is like a metronome, a player in the style of Xavi Hernández. I’m sure that when he hangs his boots up he’ll be a great coach. He reminds me of Pep Guardiola when he was a player.”
José Mourinho, former Real Madrid coach

In case you missed them …

Champions League 100 club: Carles Puyol
Champions League 100 club: Philipp Lahm

Champions League 100 club: Thierry Henry
Champions League 100 club: Petr
Čech
Champions League 100 club: Paolo Maldini

Champions League 100 club: Gary Neville

Champions League 100 club: John Terry
Champions League 100 club: Ashley Cole
Champions League 100 club: Patrice Evra
Champions League 100 club: Andrea Pirlo

Champions League 100 club: David Beckham

Champions League 100 club: Frank Lampard
Champions League 100 club: Andriy Shevchenko
Champions League 100 club: Oliver Kahn
Champions League 100 club: Luís Figo


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