The Spanish master, Alonso discusses adapting his style to players around him. FourFourTwo also asks the impossible questions of narrowing down his favourite ball of all time
Did you have change your passing style for different team-mates?
“Yes. It’s crucial for me to know to who I am passing to. Some players want the ball to feet, others want it in space. One player may want the ball on his right foot, whereas another prefers it on his left foot. These small details can all make a huge difference – you need to give your team-mate an advantage. This is something that has come to me naturally because I have been in the game for such a long time.”
Did you prefer to play in a team that played a short or direct passing game?
“It depended on who I was playing for. I can remember one week I was playing for Real Madrid and in front of me I had Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Angel Di Maria and Karim Benzema. They love the ball being played into space so they can run on to it because they have those qualities.
“Three days later I was training with Andres Iniesta, Xavi and David Silva for Spain, and that was more about combinations, small passes, and creating 3 v 2 situations to gain an advantage. It wasn’t about space and counter-attack. You need to know your team-mates – that changes everything.”
You must have hit tens of thousands of passes during your career – are there any that are your favourites?
“I have hit a few good ones over the years so it’s quite tough to pick just one or two! What I would say is that, for me, passing is as good as scoring a goal. It was never my job to put the ball in the back of the net, it was about giving the ball to the players who can do that and it is something that I have always loved to do.”