Bayern Munich will bid farewell to two giants of the game Saturday when World Cup winners Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso retire from professional football.
Bayern’s game at home to Freiburg promises to be an emotional afternoon as the Bundesliga champions lift the trophy for the fifth successive season.
Between them, Lahm, 33, and Alonso, 35, won every major trophy and were key figures in two of the 21st century’s most incredible matches.
Defensive midfielder Alonso scored Liverpool’s crucial third goal in their comeback from 3-0 down at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan, before winning 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out, in Istanbul.
Lahm captained Germany from right-back when his team scored four goals in six devastating first-half minutes in their 7-1 thrashing of hosts Brazil in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup.
Alonso made his mark at three of the world’s biggest clubs Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern. He credits his moved to Merseyside in 2004, five years after signing his first pro contract with home-town club Real Sociedad, for kick-starting his career. “My time in England was, for me, spectacular.
I was 22, it was my first experience of living on my own and of living somewhere which wasn’t my home town,” he reminisced of his Liverpool days.
He will forever be remembered at Anfield for his part in the fight back in the 2005 European final, netting a 60th-minute penalty to win the Champions League title at the end of his first season in England.
He went on to become a key part of a golden Spain generation which won the 2010 World Cup in South Africa either side of the 2008 and 2012 European titles.-AFP