Bayern midfielder Xabi Alonso to retire at end of season

MUNICH (AP) Already owning just about every championship medal in the game, Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso has decided this season will be his last.

The 35-year-old Alonso, who won the World Cup with Spain in 2010 and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012, joined Bayern from Real Madrid in 2014 and won two Bundesliga titles and the German Cup.

''I believe it's the right time,'' Alonso said Thursday. ''I always thought it would be better to quit sooner rather than later. I still feel good, but I believe this is the right moment.''

Another league title in Germany looks certain this season, with more possible. Alonso could sign off with a treble under Carlo Ancelotti, with whom he won the Champions League in 2014 at Real Madrid. Alonso also won the Spanish title in 2012 with Madrid.

''I wanted to end my career still at the highest level, and Bayern is the highest level,'' said Alonso, who also won the Champions League in 2005 in his first season at Liverpool, which he joined from Real Sociedad.

''I never would've thought I'd have such a great career, and I hope there's more to come before it ends.''

Alonso first showed his remarkable leadership qualities at Sociedad, which he helped save from relegation as captain when he was 19 after being recalled from a loan spell at second-division club Eibar.

An intelligent midfielder, Alonso always seemed to play the right pass. His composure on the ball allowed him look for the best option, while he could also produce tough tackles when needed, accepting yellow cards for the overall benefit of the team. Alonso was also known for scoring spectacular goals from distance.

''Xabi Alonso is one of the greats of world football. He has won everything there is to win during his career. He's a thoroughly remarkable person, and a gentleman of the game,'' said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who thanked the player for representing the club ''to such a high standard both on and off the field.''

Alonso has scored five goals in 71 league appearances for Bayern.

He announced his retirement from the national team after the 2014 World Cup. He scored 16 goals in 114 games for Spain.

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