Xabi Alonso brings a wealth of experience at the highest level to the FC Bayern sqaud (© imago)
Xabi Alonso brings a wealth of experience at the highest level to the FC Bayern sqaud (© imago)

Xabi Alonso: A serial winner with 'huge personality'

That Xabier Alonso Olano, better known simply as , became a footballer is perhaps no surprise given that the game runs in his family: his father Periko won the Spanish Primera Division title with Real Sociedad and Barcelona, while his older brother Mikel also made it as a professional.

Glory with Liverpool

Neither of those two enjoyed quite the same level of success as Xabi however, whose career at the pinnacle of the game has taken him to Liverpool FC, Real Madrid CF and now FC Bayern München.

Alonso cut his teeth as a player at Antiguoko in his native San Sebastian in northern Spain, and it was not long before local giants Real Sociedad snapped up the defensive midfielder, whose precision passing and on-field vision made him a key member of the side that took La Liga by storm in the 2002/03 season, finishing as runners-up to Real.

That campaign acted as a springboard for his subsequently glittering career, earning him a move to Liverpool in 2004. He won the UEFA Champions League in his first season in English football and lifted the FA Cup and League Cup trophies during his five-year stint on Merseyside. It was during that period that Alonso established himself in the Spanish national team, having made his senior debut in April 2003, and he was part of La Roja squad that won the European Championship for the first time in 2008.

Sammer: ‘Huge personality’

It was no coincidence that Alonso’s presence in the Iberians' side coincided with the country’s dominance on the international scene, and, following his transfer to Real Madrid in summer 2009, he helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup and EURO 2012 tournaments before retiring from the national team in August 2014. His collection of silverware continued grow in the Spanish capital, where he won the domestic title in 2012, the Copa del Rey in 2011 and 2014, as well as clinching the Décima, the long-awaited tenth European triumph in May 2014.

Now the fifth member of an ever-growing Spanish contingent in the Bayern squad, joining compatriots Javi Martinez, Thiago, Juan Bernat and Pepe Reina, Alonso was brought in for his “huge personality,” and “presence out on the pitch,” according to sporting director Matthias Sammer.

Injuries to fellow midfielders Martinez, Thiago and Bastian Schweinsteiger at the start of the 2014/15 season precipitated Alonso’s breakneck transfer - the Bayern No3 made his debut against FC Schalke 04 on Matchday 2 the day after signing his contract - but his composure on the ball and vast experience mean he is set to become a mainstay in the side for some time yet.