A glorious career across Europe and one of the coolest men in football! The Spanish pass-master discusses the art of passing and the satisfaction of hitting that perfectly hit ball to a teammate. Xabi takes FourFourTwo through some of the players that he learnt from and those that inspire him today.
Which of the game's great passers did you like to watch as a youngster?
"I think that Pep Guardiola and Lothar Matthaus were two of the great passers of their generation and I watched them a lot. Paul Scholes was a wonderful player and someone I really respected, and in the modern game Toni Kroos is one of the best passers in the world. I find it hard to go passed Kroos when thinking of the best passers in the game currently."
When did you realise passing had become your area of expertise?
"As soon as I started playing passing was something that just came very naturally to me. My game wasn't about dribbling or getting the ball and scoring many goals, it was about being in the middle of the pitch. It was about spreading the ball from one side of the pitch to the other, short passes and long passes. That was my game."
Do you think a sweetly-struck pass is as satisfying as scoring a goal?
"It feels great. As soon as I hit the ball, I know if it's going to be a good ball or a bad one. I've got to know that feeling so well on my foot that within the first millisecond I know if I've hit it right. When the ball travels at the right speed, height and arrives at the right moment to help a team-mate, I love it."
Xabi Alonso is an Adidas football ambassador and famously wore Adidas Predator.