Saturday saw the end of the playing careers of two legends of the game, as Xabi Alonso and Philip Lahm made their final appearances for Bayern Munich.
Both players had announced well in advance that they would be hanging up their boots at the end of the current campaign, but that didn’t make the occasion any less emotional for the players themselves, as well as for fans of the Bundesliga champions.
Along with veteran goalkeeper Tom Starke (who is also retiring), the pair were honoured before Bayern’s season-closer against Freiburg at the Allianz Arena had even begun.
— La casa del fútbol (@casadelfutbol) May 20, 2017
Alonso and Lahm were their typically brilliant selves once the match had got underway, creating nine chances between them and the former having a hand in Arjen Robben’s opening goal for Bayern. Indeed, Lahm nearly set up the second but his assist for Thomas Muller’s effort was ruled out for offside.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti had suggested that both players would be substituted during the match in order for them to receive individual appreciation from the stands, and the Italian was true to his word as an emotional Alonso was the first to leave the pitch with eight minutes remaining, leaving to a standing ovation from the crowd as he was replaced by Franck Ribery.
Xabi Alonso Finished the career and he started… by jason-pitt1
There were more tears shed five minutes later as Lahm, the captain of the side and devoted servant for over two decades, said his goodbyes to be replaced by Rafinha.
— ¬Eman¬ (@Eman_Moe) May 20, 2017
Bayern ended their Bundesliga season by winning 4-1, but in the reality the result was immaterial, the day belonged to two men as they closed the final chapter of their playing careers.
On the Mixer Irish Football Podcast this week, we’re joined by Galway United manager Shane Keegan, we react to Martin O’Neill’s latest Ireland squad, plus the usual discussion of League of Ireland matters.