Former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso has picked out his dream 5-a-side team – and it features some legendary talents.
The Spaniard brushed shoulders with some of the biggest stars in football during his trophy-laden career and was asked by his old Reds team-mate Jamie Carragher to name his ultimate line-up from players he has both played with and admired throughout his life.
Alonso, who now coaches Real Sociedad B – where he began his career, included one goalkeeper, one defender, two midfielders and an attacker in his team while speaking on Carragher’s podcast, The Greatest Game.
Ex-Liverpool and Real Madrid star Xabi Alonso has picked out his ultimate 5-a-side team
The Spaniard was asked to name his dream line-up by former team-mate Jamie Carragher (R)
Starting with the goalkeeper’s position, Alonso went with Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, who he featured alongside for three years, calling him ‘the best keeper I have played with’.
‘For me the best I have seen and i’ve played with,’ he said of Neuer. ‘For me he is (the best in the world).
‘He’s got all the superpowers to reach far, to have that composure, to read the game, understanding the space, good in the air, he has a big personality and he doesn’t get nervous.’
Bayern Munich keeper Manuel Neuer was his choice in goal, calling him the best he has seen
Neuer has 675 career appearances and has won the World Cup with Germany, eight Bundesliga titles and the Champions League twice.
Only one other of his former team-mates made the cut in his 5-a-side team as he picked out Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos as his defender – a player he knows well from their time at the Bernabeu and the Spanish team.
‘He’s been my team-mate for years in the national team, he’s won everything, record caps for Spain, four Champions Leagues, a World Cup, two Euros. He’s one of the best central defenders in the world, in history.
His former Madrid and Spain team-mate Sergio Ramos was selected at the back as he hailed his achievements in the game
Moving on to his sparkling midfield pairing, he selected France, Real Madrid and Juventus legend Zinedine Zidane because he was ‘such a big influence on me’.
‘He was not playing, he was dancing on the pitch with his moves,’ Alonso said. ‘I admire him from young and I loved the way he played.’
There was also space for the iconic Diego Maradona – who died in November – saying he felt like the legendary Argentinian was ‘almost my friend’ and called him ‘football’s Mohammed Ali’ after a sparkling career with Napoli and Barcelona.
‘My father knew, I have always felt that Maradona is almost my friend,’ he said. ‘He’s an icon, the greatest I don’t know but he’s more than a footballer.
‘He’s football’s Mohammed Ali. He will be remembered with football fans but also others, he transcends and the impact he has had in life is more special.’
Zinedine Zidane was one of two star midfielders and Alonso (L) said the now-Madrid boss had a huge influence on him growing up
Alonso described Diego Maradona as ‘football’s Mohammed Ali’ as he joined Zidane
Leading the line in Alonso’s 5-a-side team was ‘top, top striker’ Brazilian Ronaldo, who won two World Cups for his national team
Zidane and Maradona both won the World Cup with France and Argentina respectively and will go down as two of the greatest players the game has known.
Another legendary figure finished off his 5-a-side team to lead his attack – Ronaldo, who won the World Cup twice with Brazil in 1994 and 2002.
‘He was a top, top striker,’ Alonso said of Ronaldo. ‘I was so young and he had such a big impact on me when I was 16 or 17 watching football.
‘Later I have been closer to players like Cristiano [Ronaldo] or [Lionel] Messi but he’s always on my mind.’
Xabi Alonso’s dream team in full – featuring Neuer and Ramos at the back, with Zidane and Maradona supporting forward Ronaldo