Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso says he has caught the coaching bug.
The 38-year-old, who won 114 caps and one World Cup with Spain, currently takes charge of the Real Sociedad reserves in the Segunda B, but had no plans to step into coaching until he stopped playing.
Now, however, he can’t get enough of the role, having got a taste while in charge of Real Madrid’s Under-13 side for one season.
“At first you don’t know how it’s going to be,” he told L’Equipe. “But then I got caught up in the match.
“It’s like an itch and then you say: ‘F***, I like this!’
“You see that day after day, with the repletion, the explanation, the corrections, everything you tell them, they begin to understand little by little. That’s it, being a coach.”
He admitted it was a Barcelona legend whose words sum up his feelings best.
“Once I retired, I really that I would take the step into dugout and I believed the words of Johan Cruyff: ‘The most beautiful thing is to play football, the second best thing is to coach.’”
Although coached by the likes of Pep Guardiola, who employed a tiki-taka style with Bayern Munich, Alonso does not believe he has a particular style he wants to implement in his teams.
“Do I have a trademark? No. What’s important is what my players feel, that’s what I tell them,” he said. “If I feel something but my players don’t, my ideas are useless, I have to change and be at their service.
“Having experienced different leagues, it allows me to adapt quickly. So my team is in the Segunda B but I easily immersed myself in it.
“If, in the future, I have to go elsewhere, I can adapt quickly, but I’m not in a hurry.”
Alonso’s long-term ambitions are rather simple.
“What I want is to be able to choose where I coach,” he said. “And I like to coach here. I want to take steps naturally and not force them. These first steps in San Sebastian, my home, where I started my playing career, it makes sense for me.”
Meanwhile, he has revealed the man he sees as the ideal coach.
“He has to be both a connoisseur of the game and an expert in management,” he said. “Who has both today? Jurgen Klopp. And I don’t just say that because I played for Liverpool!
“He has charisma. You see his relationship with his players at the end of matches.
“The strong emotional connection he has with his players also comes from the link he has created with the club. Having this is gold for a coach. Pep Guardiola also knows how to do that, like Rafa Benitez and others.
“Jose Mourinho has impressed me by his ability to read matches and his ability to react when the course of the game requires it.”
Alonso’s side currently lie fourth in their division, three points behind leaders Logrones.