FORMER Liverpool FC hero Xabi Alonso has hailed current captain Steven Gerrard by insisting that, no matter which country the Huyton-born midfielder had been born in, he would have been a star – including Spain.
When asked if he thought there would be space for Gerrard alongside himself, Xavi and Iniesta in Spain’s current midfield set-up, Alonso was left in no doubt:
“Absolutely, there’s no doubt. He could play in any national team in the world because he has so many great qualities.
“He is flexible. He can play at the English pace or he can associate with the ball very well. He is a very intelligent player, so he could play anywhere – not just any national team but any club in the world. But he has been a one-club man and that’s something I really admire.”
Speaking to Real Madrid TV, Xabi also spoke of the midfield duo’s great friendship, and the influence Gerrard had on his own career:
“We are great friends and we still keep in touch. He was a great influence to me. When I arrived at Liverpool I was 22 and he was the captain, he was the main man at the club.
“For me he was a reference, the way he behaved with his teammates and with the supporters as well. I learned a lot from him.
“As a captain he has embraced all the responsibilities of being a captain and he’s the perfect captain for Liverpool, not just because he’s a great player but because he represents the values of the club.”
Xabi was speaking in the wake of Gerrard’s landmark 600th appearance for the Reds, and confirmed his status as a club legend:
“He’ll absolutely be remembered as one of the greats. For me he is already one of the greats.
“His name and Liverpool’s name will always be linked and he’s a great representative of the club and the city.
“There are so many things. He is so inspirational. In the key moments he has that different thing, that spark that is difficult to define.
“He has achieved great things and in very important moments he has been the man for Liverpool. We had great European nights and he was the main man. For me he’s a great player. Hopefully he will reach 700 games.”