Xabi Alonso was a Champions League winner with Real Madrid, and had a host of happy times at the club, but he has revealed the one moment that made him want to pack up and go home.
Spending five seasons at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Alonso won LaLiga Santander in 2012, along with the Copa del Rey twice, as well as the 2014 Champions League, but it was the 5-0 thrashing to Barcelona back in 2010 at the Camp Nou that sticks in his memory..
Xavi Hernandez and Perdo Rodriguez gave the Blaugrana a two-goal lead 17 minutes in, before David Villa netted a brace and Jeffren put the icing on the cake in the second half.
“We knew in that moment if we were too nice they were going to kill us,” Alonso told Jaime Carragher’s Greatest Game podcast.
“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 went on to reveal the reason behind his decision to turn down Real Madrid for Liverpool back in 2004.
“That summer, there was a real interest from Real Madrid,” added Alonso.
“There were talks between the clubs, but it took so long. As it was taking so long I said ‘what’s happening, do they want me?’
“At that stage, Liverpool came with a real strong interest. When I felt that, I spoke with [former Liverpool coach] Rafa [Benitez] and [former chairman] Rick Parry came to try and sign me.
“I saw that real interest and I felt ‘wow’, it was very important for me. I changed my mind and I said ‘no, it has to be Liverpool‘, because Rafa convinced me.
“I knew about the club and the city, but I didn’t know that much. For me, I was like ‘Xabi, this is going to be your first new experience’.
“I went there so open minded, ready to learn as quick as possible.”
Alonso also recalled how he felt at half time in Liverpool’s memorable Champions League final against AC Milan in 2005, after the Italian side took a three goal lead in the first 45 minutes.
“I was angry at myself, thinking ‘we can’t throw it away so easily, this is a beautiful chance’,” declared Alonso.
“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 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.”