XABI ALONSO insists his love for Liverpool is undimmed, nearly two years after he left Anfield for Real Madrid in a £30million deal.
The Spanish midfielder quit the Reds in acrimonious circumstances in the summer of 2009 after demanding a transfer.
Alonso had been hurt by Rafa Benitez’s pursuit of Gareth Barry 12 months earlier and the manager couldn’t convince him to stay.
However, the 2005 European Cup winner says the club and city where his three-year-old son Jon was born remain close to his heart.
“I am still a Liverpool fan and will be forever, absolutely,” he said.
“The things that I have lived and the experiences I had during those five years are deep in my heart and the passion and respect I had for the club and its supporters are still the same.
“Hopefully I can transmit to my son what Liverpool Football Club means and how special it is, as he was born in the city and he will visit it in the future.”
Alonso cost Liverpool £10.5million from Real Sociedad in 2004 and went on to score 19 goals in 210 appearances.
He was a hugely popular figure at Anfield and the Reds have sorely missed his qualities over the past two seasons.
The 29-year-old still keeps a close eye on events at his old club and is delighted to see them making progress under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish following last year’s takeover by Fenway Sports Group.
“I think they have regained their confidence and despite being knocked out of the Europa League (by Braga) their form in the Premier League has improved a lot,” Alonso said. “I think they can rebuild a competitive team, especially as it looks like there is now stability at the club again.
“Now they have to create a plan for the following years.”
Alonso will come up against an English team tonight for the first time since he left Liverpool when Jose Mourinho’s side welcome Tottenham to the Bernabeu for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
It’s new territory for Spurs and it’s also the first time since 2004 that Real have made the last eight. Alonso is hoping to make it all the way to Wembley in May with the record nine times winners.
“Tottenham are where they deserve to be after so many years chasing it and with the ambition they've got they are a great side,” he said. Obviously, I hope that they don't repeat what Liverpool did in 2005 but I am not at all surprised by the progress that they have made because they have always had great potential.
“They have several dangerous players including Peter Crouch, Jermaine Defoe, Aaron Lennon, Gareth Bale, Luca Modric, Niko Kranjcar and I rate them very highly.
“I am really looking forward to playing against them. The atmosphere at White Hart Lane in the second leg is going to be electrifying. We hope to get a good result at the Bernabeu to take with us into the next game because their crowd is going to really push them.
“From my experience, at Anfield, you want a good start during the first 15 minutes to get the fans excited, so we will have to chill down that excitement.
“We have belief in ourselves because we have a very complete young squad. We are just four good games away from the final now.
“It will not be easy to get there as I know from my own experience, but we believe that we can beat anyone if we are on top of our game and have a good winning mentality.”