Real Madrid and Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso has promised to put aside his love of Ireland to end the dream of the Boys in Green on Thursday night in Gdansk.
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Alonso, a native of the Basque town, Tolosa, also revealed his love of Gaelic Football and how he learned of to play the game while learning English in Kells, Co. Meath as a teenager.
“Of course I like Ireland. I have played there one summer when I was young and I really like it,” said Alonso.
“There is a great atmosphere there and they have great fans. I have friends in Ireland and I know Irish players.
“I did play Gaelic football. I did play and I really liked the culture.”
The ex-Real Sociedad and Liverpool player admitted that it would be difficult to face the Irish team but will be completely focussed on his Spanish side securing three points before moving on to face Croatia.
“It is going to very difficult. We know them because they play in the Premier League. When it comes to the Irish team, we’ll have to be very patient. We will have to try and score and early goal because that makes things very easy afterwards.”
Alonso has won both the European Championships and the World Cup with Spain in 2008 and 2010 respectively, an FA Cup and Champions League winners medal with Liverpool and a Copa del Rey and La Liga title with Real Madrid.