You never loved me! Xabi reveals frosty relationship with Anfield boss Rafa
07 September 2009 12:03
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Xabi Alonso claims manager Rafa Benitez showed him little affection during his time at Liverpool.
The Spain midfielder left Anfield in the summer to join Real Madrid in a £30m deal despite an outstanding season in the Reds midfield last term.
Benitez came close to selling Alonso to Juventus last summer as the Liverpool boss tried to pave the way for long-term target Gareth Barry.
And the former Real Sociedad man told Champions Magazine: 'Every now and again a player would appreciate a bit more closeness, a pat on the back, but Rafa is not that kind of guy.'
Alonso married earlier this summer - but Benitez failed to make the guest list for his big day.
He explained: 'I invited friends, I guess it's fair to say. Rafa and I always had a very professional relationship, yet there are a lot of urban myths about what we went through. It wasn't so bad.'
Nevertheless, Alonso admits Benitez helped nuture his talents during his time on Merseyside.
'He told me to keep a balance. You are not a genius when things go very well but neither a disaster when things go wrong. His style is what has made him what he is.
'I am starting a new era and I will be eternally grateful to Liverpool because they are a very special institution. I jumped into the pool of their history and philosophy.
Alonso and Benitez endured a frosty relationship at Anfield
'I got involved in the city and loved living in the centre. I have grown as a person and as a player. When I joined it was a new project and I was also starting out in this game.
'I left Spain at 22 and became something of a sponge, absorbing everything and trying to find out about the new country, its society and daily lives.
'I listened to people, talked to strangers, looked around.
'You have to have an open mind to respect their traditions. That helped me understand what was expected of me and the team.
'Plus, the experience of playing among the elite of Europe, fighting for titles, that has matured me after five unforgettable years.'