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Xabi Alonso: 'My time at Liverpool made me into a man'

Xabi Alonso, who is to retire from football at the end of the season, hails "special" club Liverpool for helping him to lift the Champions League trophy.

Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso has revealed how it took only one season at Liverpool to learn just how "special" the club was.

The 35-year-old, who has previously also represented Real Sociedad and Eibar, announced earlier this week that he is to bring the curtain down on his playing career at the end of the campaign.

Alonso went on to spend five seasons on Merseyside after leaving his homeland for the first time, helping the club to an FA Cup success and a memorable Champions League triumph in 2005.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, the Spaniard said: "My time in England was, for me, spectacular. I was 22, it was my first experience of living on my own and of living somewhere which wasn't my hometown.

"Until that moment I was living with my parents and I knew everything in the neighbourhood. It was when I became an adult and I realised in that first year at Liverpool what a special club it is, with all the history and the tradition of Liverpool. From the first day you realise how big it is.

"I was lucky enough to play in a fantastic final for Liverpool and to win that Champions League. Hopefully I will have another chance to win it this season."

Alonso, who has featured 27 times for Bayern this season, was hailed by former teammate Steve Gerrard upon announcing his retirement.

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 Jordi Alba of Spain jumps on teammate Xabi Alonso in celebration after a goal on a penalty kick by Alonso in the first half during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014
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ChinaChina1891138
JapanJapan174627
United StatesUnited States14161141
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Great BritainGreat Britain69924
Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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