With one understated tweet on Thursday morning, Xabi Alonso started the countdown to the end of his playing career.
It had been coming, of course. The 35-year-old was widely expected to follow Bayern teammate Philipp Lahm’s lead in hanging up his boots at the end of the season, but it still no less sad to see a legend of the game, that has won almost everything there is to win, call time on his playing career.
Lived it. Loved it.
Farewell beautiful game. pic.twitter.com/1aSN7GGNzZ
— Xabi Alonso (@XabiAlonso) March 9, 2017
Since Alonso’s announcement, tributes have been pouring hin from just about everyone the midfielder has come into contact with. His former clubs, with whom he won a combined three league titles, four domestic cups and two Champions Leagues, led the way in saying goodbye to the legendary playmaker:
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) March 9, 2017
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) March 9, 2017
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 9, 2017
— Real Sociedad Fútbol (@RealSociedad) March 9, 2017
Alonso’s teammates (current and former), meanwhile, also took to social media to pay tribute to the Spaniard, including a gushing post from former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard with whom Alonso won the Champions League in 2005:
Xavi you are pure quality . A class act on the pitch and a gentlemen off it . It was a pleasure to play alongside you and I missed you every day from the moment you left the reds . Congratulations on your perfect career and good luck to you and your family In the future . #legend ???❤️ @xabialonso
A post shared by Steven Gerrard (@stevengerrard) on
— Thiago Alcantara (@Thiago6) March 9, 2017
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 9, 2017
— Franck Ribéry (@FranckRibery) March 9, 2017
— Philipp Lahm (@philipplahm) March 9, 2017
Contigo aprendí a amar este deporte. Gracias por tantos buenos momentos / I learnt with you to love football. Thnx for a lot of good moments pic.twitter.com/DaHdEJZMH1
— Fernando Torres (@Torres) March 9, 2017
“The Pass Master” announces his retirement. Good luck my friend! Thanks for all the great passes??you always found me @XabiAlonso ????
— John Arne Riise (@JARiiseOfficial) March 9, 2017
— Pepe Reina (@PReina25) March 9, 2017
And we did love watching you play !!
Gracias por tanto Xabi !! https://t.co/19CP3FIu6c
— Luis Garcia (@LuchoGarcia14) March 9, 2017
— Sami Khedira (@SamiKhedira) March 9, 2017
— Djibril Cisse (@DjibrilCisse) March 9, 2017
Top quality ?⚽ All the best Xabi https://t.co/bag4yq4GcB
— Neil Mellor (@NeilMellor33) March 9, 2017
Como convertirte en una leyenda del fútbol mundial en solo cuatro pasos. pic.twitter.com/75pVHGdUKk
— Álvaro Arbeloa (@aarbeloa17) March 9, 2017
With another German domestic double on the horizon, along with perhaps another Champions League, Alonso could yet still bow out on an extremely high note.