With Catalonia’s aspirations to gain independence from Spain, Barcelona football club and former star Xabi Alonso is going back to the place where he began his professional career, a return he is looking forward to.
Xabi Alonso traveled from Chicago to Barcelona on Monday to watch his club rival Real Madrid take on their city rivals FC Barcelona in the Champions League, kicking off their last 16, second leg match on Tuesday night.
“I am very happy to be here,” said the 35-year-old Alonso, who is from Barcelona’s Burgos region. “I have been in Barcelona a lot.”
The Spain veteran took part in Liverpool and Real Madrid’s glory years in 2009 and 2010, he says now, Spanish football is in the right direction and feels all the hope is back in Spain.
“I think it is a turning point for our country,” Alonso told Spanish television. “We are waking up. The people are waking up.”
The World Cup winner won a combined 250 goals in his 211 appearances for Liverpool and Real Madrid, but only 8 for Spain. Alonso announced he will retire in 2018 after his contract with Bayern Munich expires.
“Today is a special day,” Alonso said. “We want to see how our Real Madrid team is going to go to play against Barca, and see how I can help the team in our last few matches in the Champions League and the La Liga.”
The tall defender, who made his Barcelona debut as a 16-year-old in 1995, said he remembers playing lots of games in the Catalan city, and still loves coming to town.
“I remember there is a lot of history here,” he said. “On the pitch there are a lot of legends here, and when you play, you don’t just think about yourself, you think about others.”
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