With a footballing father and brother, Xabi Alonso has, professionally speaking at least, enjoyed the most success of a family trio inextricably linked with Real Sociedad. And it was at the Basque outfit that the cultured midfielder made his La Liga debut back in 1998, his consistent and class-laden performances earning a pivotal switch to Liverpool come 2004.

 

At Anfield, Alonso firmly established himself among the world’s finest in his position, as well as picking up, among a clutch of other honours, a winner’s medal in the UEFA Champions League in 2005. Strong in the tackle, a visionary playmaker and boasting a powerful shot, Alonso has since 2009 been the creator-in-chief that makes Real Madrid tick – a genuinely indispensable cog in Los Blancos’ machine.

 

After making his full debut with La Selección in April 2003, Alonso has been a near-fixture in La Roja’s squad and made the cut for every major international tournament. Involved in Spain’s triumphs at UEFA EURO 2008, the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and EURO 2012, the deep-lying midfielder rose majestically to the occasion on his 100th senior cap for his country – scoring twice against France in the last eight at the latter EURO.