It’s a year since Xabi Alonso left the dressing room as a player for the last time, finishing a career that saw him win 114 caps for Spain and grace the team sheets of Real Sociedad, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Talent and creativity – along with a positive attitude, professionalism and hard-work – is what took him to the very top of his game and it’s these lessons he’s now imparting to a team of street footballers: Tango Squad FC.
Here are five tips that are resonating with his squad of 14 players from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia and Sweden:
1. Play the same on and off the pitch
“Your style on the pitch is your style in life. The way you act off the pitch translates to the way you play on the pitch and the other way around. The game, the work, everything then comes together. The game was my duty, but it was my joy as well. That’s the best way to work.”
2. Creativity gives you an edge
“Creativity is one of the key factors for success and gives you the edge on someone else. If you want to form a good team, you need to understand each player’s creativity, bring out the best in each one, and put everything together. This is why managing my squad was fun, because I had to deal with good guys: passionate, creative and skilled players.”
3. World-class players require world-class determination
“There are many factors that need to come together if you want to be the best and play in the elite. You’ll never make it if you don’t have unwavering determination or if you don’t believe in yourself and your game.”
4. Respect the game and the team
“The two most important things football has taught me: you need to respect the game and you need to respect your team. I pass this on to my guys. It’s important in whatever they do or whichever game they play.”
5. Be proud of your success but stay humble
“Becoming a World Champion with Spain for the first time left me feeling privileged – I was part of a very lucky group to be involved in creating history. I remind my players to be thankful for the opportunities that come their way and to be proud of the success they achieve.”