PSG’s Xabi Alonso on retiring as a player, coming back to Spain and sharing a dream with his daughter

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As soon as his playing career was over, Xabi Alonso made it his goal to return to his native Spain to work as a scout. After a stint in his native country, where he became a legendary player of Real Madrid and the national team, he returned to the States, and at the tail end of his career, to become a coach. The results have been bittersweet.

Alonso’s first career move as a pro player was to Real Madrid, where his pace and passing genius helped him become an icon, and a key member of the team’s quest to win two World Cups. As MLS desperately tries to secure its place among the major leagues in the world of soccer, Alonso’s uncanny ability to provide space and time for players has been essential.

Alonso’s next career move was to Chicago Fire and a record of 20-3-10. But he was already bewitched by the MLS style and the opportunities for growth that surrounded the league. “The challenges are very clear in this league,” he says. “How you make these players grow and develop their game and their ability.”

In his second MLS gig, at Atlanta United, he established the Legion, a coaching staff built for and by younger players. As one of the most successful general managers in the league, he added some of the most promising players in the game, and last year, led Atlanta to the finals.

Alonso talks about the seemingly bright future of the league and his heart in returning to his homeland with the public television channel RTVE.

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