Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso has labelled Anfield as one of the few ‘temples’ in football.
Speaking prior to Spain’s opening World Cup match against Netherlands on Friday, Alonso delved back into his Liverpool days as some of the best of his career.
Alonso spent five seasons on Merseyside with Liverpool, winning a Champions League and an FA Cup with the club. He became an immediate fan favourite through his controlling role in the centre of midfield, and also treated them to the occasional spectacular goal.
The 32-year old made the move to Real Madrid in 2009, and despite a much rumoured switch back to Anfield never materialising, Alonso still speaks well of the club.
“Liverpool were very clear and sure about what they wanted when they first put themselves in contact with me,” Alonso reportedly told Canal Plus.
“[Rafa] Benítez pushed for them to sign me and phoned me to explain exactly what they wanted from me.
"And it was the moment when I needed to take another step in my career, to experience something new and to grow as a person.
“Anfield makes a huge impression on you, it motivates you - it's a place with a lot of charm and for me, it's one of the temples of football - there aren't many but Anfield is one of them.
"It's a no frills stadium but it's got a lot of soul."
Until recently, Liverpool have arguably never quite filled the gap left by Alonso when he departed for Madrid. Although captain Steven Gerrard has always remained a prominent figure at Anfield, many central midfielders have come and gone as the club try to rebuild a successful squad.
Now, Liverpool have strong depth in midfield, and look likely to add more names this summer. Alongside Gerrard sits Jordan Henderson, with Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen also providing back up as more defensive minded midfielders.
Liverpool are back where they have barely been since losing Alonso, the Champions League, and will need more players of his quality if Brendan Rodgers’ side have any hopes of progressing far in the competition.