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Xabier “Xabi” Alonso Olano is a Spanish former footballer who played as a central midfielder. Alonso began his career at Real Sociedad, the main team of his home province Gipuzkoa. After a brief loan period at Eibar, he was appointed as team captain of Real Socieded by then-manager John Toshack. He succeeded in the role, taking the club to second place in the 2002–03 season. He moved to Liverpool in August 2004 for £10.5 million and won the UEFA Champions League in his first season, under manager Rafael Benítez, scoring the equalising goal in the Final against Milan. The following season, he won the FA Cup and the FA Community Shield. He moved to Real Madrid for the start of the 2009–10 season in a deal worth around £30 million. After winning honours including a league title in 2012 and the Champions League in 2014 during five seasons in Madrid, he was signed by German club Bayern Munich on a two-year contract. This was extended by a further year, and he eventually retired from playing in summer 2017, aged 35, having won the Bundesliga in each of his three seasons with Bayern. He made his international debut for Spain in April 2003 in a 4–0 victory against Ecuador. While playing for Spain, Alonso won Euro 2008, Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup, and he also represented his country at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. On 23 June 2012, Alonso won his 100th cap for Spain in the quarter-final of Euro 2012 against France; he celebrated the occasion by scoring both of Spain’s goals to send them into the semi-finals. Following Spain’s failure to progress out of the group stages at the 2014 World Cup, Alonso retired from international football on 27 August 2014. His 114 caps make him the fifth-most capped player in the nation’s history.
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Alonso was regarded as a quiet and friendly person by his former teammates at Liverpool. He is married to Nagore Aranburu and the couple have three children: Jontxu, Ane and Emma. Alonso stayed in Merseyside to be at her side while she gave birth, later saying, “It was a little frustrating to miss the match against Inter but I have to be with my family at times like these.” His decision to place his family ahead of a Champions League tie caused much friction with former manager Rafael Benítez. On 30 March 2010, they had their second child, a girl named Ane Alonso Aranburu. Their third child and second daughter, Emma Alonso Aranburu, was born on 2 December 2013. Alonso and former Arsenal player Mikel Arteta were neighbours on the same street while growing up in San Sebastián and also lived near each other in Liverpool. Alonso convinced Arteta to transfer to Everton after he told him how happy he was living in Liverpool. Alonso also helped persuade former Real Sociedad teammate Juan Ugarte to make a move to Wales by joining Wrexham in 2004. Alonso’s brother Mikel plays for Spanish club Real Unión. He previously spent a season on loan at Bolton Wanderers in the 2007–08 season with an option for a permanent deal. However, the team opted not to extend the loan deal and he returned to Spain to train with Xabi Alonso’s former club, Real Sociedad. Alonso also has another brother involved in football, Jon, who works as a referee. Alonso is a Meath Gaelic football supporter. His interest in the Irish sport stems from the age of 15 when he went to the Irish town of Kells, County Meath, and stayed with a family to learn English, where he played it in his spare time. Even while playing at Real Madrid, Alonso has declared himself a Liverpool supporter and returns to watch games at Anfield when his schedule allows. He was quoted in The Times Online in 2011 as saying, “I am still a Liverpool fan and will be forever, absolutely” and that he will raise his Liverpool-born son as a Red supporter.