Xabi Alonso has announced he will retire from playing at the end of the season.
Reports earlier this year suggested Alonso was going to hang up his boots when his Bayern Munich contract runs out in the summer, and the 35-year-old midfielder has now confirmed that will be the case.
Xabi Alonso: ‘I want to win everything there is to win with Bayern Munich’
Alongside a picture of him waving, Alonso wrote on his Twitter account: “Lived it. Loved it. Farewell beautiful game.”
Alonso’s impending retirement was also confirmed by Bayern. The former Spain international told the club’s official website: “It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I believe it’s the right time. I always thought it would be better to quit sooner rather than later. I still feel good, but I believe this is the right moment.
“I wanted to end my career still at the highest level, and Bayern is the highest level. I’m incredibly proud and happy to play for FC Bayern and to be a part of this family.
“I’ve experienced so much as a player with Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. They are all great clubs. And of course, with the Spanish national team. I never would’ve thought I’d have such a great career, and I hope there’s more to come before it ends.”
Alonso’s decision to call time on his career comes after more than a decade of trophy-laden success at the top level. Having started his career at Sociedad, Alonso joined Liverpool in 2004 and was an influential part of Rafael Benítez’s side that won an unforgettable Champions League final against Milan in 2005.
Alonso scored the equaliser as Liverpool battled back from a 3-0 half-time deficit in Istanbul before going on to win on penalties. While at Anfield, Alonso also picked up an FA Cup winners’ medal and the Uefa Super Cup before returning to Spain in 2009 with Real Madrid.
In his five years at the Bernabéu he was part of another winning Champions League campaign, despite being suspended for the final in 2014, as well as a league title and two Copa del Rey triumphs.
Alonso’s final club is Bayern, who he joined in 2014 and has already helped win back-to-back Bundesliga titles among other honours, with more success possibly to come. Bayern are seven points clear at the top of the Bundesliga, through to the last eight of the Champions League after thrashing Arsenal 10-2 on aggregate, and are also in the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal.
He also enjoyed a glittering career with Spain, making 114 appearances for his country and helping them win the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge hailed Alonso as one of the game’s greats and a “gentleman of football”. Rummenigge said: “Bayern would like to thank a great player and person for representing Bayern to such a high standard both on and off the pitch.
“Xabi Alonso is one of the greats of world football. He has won everything there is to win during his career. He’s a thoroughly remarkable person, and a gentleman of the game.”