Xabi Alonso has already won his first trophy as a coach – and it will come as no surprise to those who worked alongside the Spaniard when he was a player.
Having taken over as manager of Real Madrid Infantil A in the summer, Alonso’s Under-13s side have secured the Division de Honor Juvenil with three games remaining of his first season in charge.
We’ve taken a look at how some of the biggest names in football always tipped Alonso to be a success in the dugout.
Guardiola and Alonso were similar players in many ways so it shouldn’t be a surprise they hit it off when they worked together at Bayern Munich.
“We were rivals, big rivals when he was at Real Madrid,” Guardiola said upon Alonso’s retirement. “After that I was so lucky to have him in Munich.
“How the people speak about him – all the managers that he had in his career – is like a human being. One of the best midfielders I’ve ever seen in my life.
“He will come back soon as a manager. I bet, wherever he wants, he will become a manager and will be good.
“He understands the game and has curiosity to understand the game. He knew during the weeks what we would have to do to win the next games, to beat them. He already had the curiosity to know.”
Xabi Alonso will be managing Real Madrid’s Infantil A side. Not a bad teacher for young players to have. 🎩 pic.twitter.com/2MyztL6EV9
— Talking LaLiga (@TalkingLaLiga) August 28, 2018
Ancelotti was the last manager to benefit from Alonso’s presence in midfield, and he tipped the player to make a successful transition into a coach.
“I have to accept his decision. We’re losing a quality midfielder,” he said after Alonso announced his decision to retire.
“I am happy that I was able to train Xabi. He is a true professional and a wonderful person.
“We still have three months to work together and I hope we will win titles together.
“He wants to go on vacation, but he has the qualities and the experience to become a fantastic coach in the future.”
And Ancelotti tried to give Alonso his first coaching role as Bayern assistant manager.
“I wanted an assistant who knew the club,” Ancelotti said. “I tried to convince Philipp Lahm before the end of the season, I also tried to convince Xabi Alonso. They refused.”
One of a select group of footballers to appear under both Guardiola and Mourinho, Alonso clearly left a lasting impression on the former Chelsea and Manchester United boss, who hinted at his future change in career in an Instagram message after the midfielder announced his retirement.
“The end of one career and the beginning of another. With the same success with the same dignity. Football needs Men.”
And prior to Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid, reports suggested Mourinho wanted Alonso as his assistant at the Bernabeu should he rejoin the club as manager himself.
Alonso became as popular at Bayern as he had at his previous clubs, and chief executive Rummenigge left the door open for the Spaniard to return to the club in a coaching capacity, detailing the qualities he possesses to be a success in the dugout.
“I hope that one day he returns to Bayern Munich,” Rummenigge told Kicker. “Xabi radiates a natural authority, he had fantastic coaches and he speaks several languages.
“He is an extraordinary person. He was a general on the pitch and all the players followed him. The ball was drawn to him and he distributed it as if by magic. He could slow the play down or speed it up. Xabi thought quickly and played quickly.”
And now to the man himself, who was incredibly humble after securing his first trophy within Real Madrid’s youth team.
“First of all, the stars of this is them (points to the team),” he told the club’s social media channels. “The ones that deserve it is them.
“They’re the ones that are on the pitch and fight, play, know how to suffer, and have made us enjoy it very much.
“Generally speaking, it’s been a very positive, very good season. I believe the kids have been very mature, they’re learning many things & at this stage, that’s what it’s about.”
He added: “First and foremost, this stage is all about development, not about being competitive. However, at the same time we must have the desire to win – it’s all tied together. That’s why we try to have both things going hand in hand.
“They’re only fourteen-years-old, but they’re doing things that older players do. That’s what it’s all about. To give them a better idea, because little by little the level increases and they’ll be getting better.”
💬 @XabiAlonso, entrenador del Infantil A: "Es mi primera temporada y ha sido muy positiva. Los protagonistas y los que merecen el título son ellos; son los que pelean en el campo, saben sufrir y nos han hecho disfrutar mucho". #LaFabrica pic.twitter.com/wZiI34cTlP
— Cantera Real Madrid (@lafabricacrm) March 27, 2019
And just to tantalise Liverpool supporters, Alonso was asked by talkSPORT in 2018 whether he ever thinks about taking charge of the Reds, replying: “Yes for sure, I have dreamt of that, but first I have to prove myself and prepare.
“If I decide somewhere along the way to take my chances as a manager, my link, my commitment, my passion with Liverpool is there. Why not? We will see if we can cross paths in our ways.”
Please come back, Xabi. We miss you.