Tolosa honored probably their most popular native son, and world champion, Xabi Alonso, yesterday with a series of acts. In the morning, Xabi received an honor guard from local youth footballers at the entrance to the city hall. Inside, family, friends and former teammates, as well as Javier Clemente, Luis Uranga and Juan Luis Larrea, were waiting for him. The man of the hour described the act as very emotional, because it was a tribute from his town and from people he is close to.
He received a commemorative txapela (the traditional Basque beret) as part of the tribute. Xabi’s parents were on hand, as well as wife Nagore, and little Ane!!! Xabi and his mother look so much alike, no?
They also showed a video in which former and current teammates – including Iker Casillas and Artiz Aduriz – family – his parents, Mikel, Nagore, Jontxu and a dressed-up Ane among them – and other important people in his life appeared. Iker told Xabi to enjoy the time with his family and friends, and that he missed him in Madrid, and would see him soon, while Mikel jokingly remembered his younger brother as a “freckled and bad-tempered” kid, who as a child “was fat. He had boobs and a beer belly, and I think we even called him Sabrina. He was a good companion for mischief, a specialist in making mischief and getting away with it.” Meanwhile, Isabel, Xabi’s ama, described her son in his younger days as “charming and with a lot of female friends.” Isabel and Periko coincided that “he always had his own ideas, and when he wants something, he goes for it. He physically resembles his mother, but his personality is the same as his father’s.” And a friend explained, “his nose is how it is because he had an accident with a slide. He was competing and fell on his face, so it was his desire to win that did that.” The mayor of Tolosa had this to say: “he’s among the stars, but he looks at them from the ground. He’s a role model for children.” Xabi described the video as “an unexpected surprise, very emotional and very, very special.”
Later on, in the Usabal sports center, Xabi unveiled a commemorative plaque with his name on it, as well as that of Edurne Pasaban, the mountaineer who is also from Tolosa, and posed next to a huge photo of him as a kid. The best part was when his former teammates – including brother Mikel – all showed to recreate the photo. Xabi was an adorable kid. But I think he should have posed like his nine-year-old self!
There was also a performance of traditional Basque dance for Xabi. The day ended when Xabi took the saque de honor at the Shanti tournament, which he participated in when he was a kid (that’s where the photo of him as a kid is from).
In January, Xabi will receive San Sebastián’s golden drum award, the highest honor that the city gives out, in recognition of his contribution to making Donosti look good [he does that so well, no?].
Watch a video here of the best moments, including Xabi speaking Basque, and Mikel talking like Sergio Ramos (ending just about every other one of his sentences with a ¿no?).
Bonus for my Madrid blog readers: Xabi Alonso, front and back.™ He gets some posing in there too.
I think Xabi should be a diplomat when he retires, because everyone loves him.