Alonso was born in the small town of Tolosa, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, into a family known for its footballing prowess. His father, Periko Alonso, won La Liga twice in successive seasons with Real Sociedad and a third time after he joined Barcelona. He also featured in the national team, winning 21 caps over the course of his career. Xabi Alonso lived in the city of Barcelona for the first six years of his life and moved to San Sebastián (Donostia) thereafter. It was here that his passion for football began as he whiled away his childhood playing at Playa de la Concha (Shell Beach). On the Basque sands, Alonso befriended a fellow resident of Calle Matia, Mikel Arteta, and the two would battle each other in exhibitions of technical ability. He was immersed in football and his father would often bring him and his older brother, Mikel, to CE Sabadell's training ground to practice together. Alonso was influenced by his father's playing, taking more pleasure in passing the ball well than shooting at goal. At an early age, he decided to play as a defensive midfielder, a role which helped him learn how to distribute the ball well. This talent would later prove to be an integral part of his club and international career.
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