5 things you should know about Xabi Alonso

Written by By Stephanie Hyam, CNN Barcelona, Spain

When Xabi Alonso changed clubs midway through the 2014-15 season, he said he was returning to Barcelona, but he soon realized he had found the “real” Real Madrid.

“I was shocked. I really surprised myself with how normal it felt,” the Barcelona-born midfielder told CNN Sport this week.

“When I arrived in Madrid it was a big shock; now it’s been two years, I just want to stay. I just can’t stop working and enjoying football.”

2. Xabi Alonso : The man who saw Barcelona off

Following six years at Bayern Munich, Alonso made the cross-city transfer to the Bernabeu where he has played his last two seasons.

He has now won silverware on both sides of Spain’s domestic leagues, dedicating his trophy cabinet to both himself and his three children — Cristian, Andrea and Eva — all of whom were born in Barcelona.

“In both clubs I can win it all. In Spain it’s always been a joke to say this, but we’re here to win it all,” he said, speaking through a translator.

“For me, to feel important and to feel a piece of history is what I wanted.”

3. On playing for Spanish Cup winners

Alonso’s transfer to Real Madrid not only involved a switch in teams, but a switch in ideology. He has trained under Spanish national team manager Julen Lopetegui, who after five years managing Madrid, also returned to his homeland to take over the helm of Spain.

“Spain has always been one of the best teams in the world, it’s just a matter of time. Some people don’t like the coach but I believe he’s the right one for the national team. He’s won everywhere.”

4. On which city he feels closest to

“I feel like I belong to all of Spain because I’ve lived here, I know the people, I know the culture, I’ve played in Catalonia.”

5. Who’s more comfortable on the pitch, him or Lionel Messi?

“It would be Leo because I play in the more advanced position, he’s the same. I have to train and play with him in order to learn.”

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