Xabi Alonso's match worn Adidas Predator LZ

Xabi Alonso's match worn Adidas Predator LZ

Xabi Alonso's match worn Adidas Predator LZ

Player name: Xabier Alonso Olano

Country: Spain

Clubs: Real Sociedad, Eibar, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich

DOB: 28/11/1981

Position: Defensive midfielder

Xabi Alonso is a Spanish football manager and former professional player who played as a central midfielder, with mainly defensive responsibilities. He is currently the manager of Segunda División B club Real Sociedad B. As a player, he is regarded as one of the best ever to play in his position and a true legend of the game.

Alonso began his career at Real Sociedad, the main team of his home province Gipuzkoa. After a brief loan period at Eibar, he was appointed as team captain of Real Sociedad by then-manager John Toshack. He succeeded in the role, taking the club to second place in the 2002–03 season. He moved to Liverpool in August 2004 for £10.5 million and won the UEFA Champions League in his first season, under manager Rafael Benítez, scoring the equalising goal in the dramatic Final against Milan in Istanbul. The following season, he won the FA Cup and the FA Community Shield.

He moved to Real Madrid for the start of the 2009–10 season in a deal worth around £30 million. After winning honours including a league title in 2012 and the Champions League in 2014 during five seasons in Madrid, he was signed by German club Bayern Munich on a two-year contract. This was extended by a further year, and he eventually retired from playing in summer 2017, aged 35, having won the Bundesliga in each of his three seasons with Bayern.

We have received a pair of Xabi's customised match worn Adidas Predator LZ boots, which he wore during the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament in Poland/Ukraine for the Spain national team and at the start of the 2012-13 season for Real Madrid. As well as showing great signs of match use, this pair also feature some interesting modifications which separates them from the regular retail versions of this model.

As with any of Adidas' top contracted stars, this pair have been specially made to Alonso's exact specifications and requirements in Germany. The art no. "MTM" is an abbreviation for made to measure, with the factory number "502001" relating to their Athlete Services factory located in Herzogenaurach, the same location as Adidas' Headquarters. This would've been one of the last "made in Germany" pairs to feature this style size tag, as pairs from 2013 on wards feature the "only the best for the athlete!" tags, an example is shown below (Luis Suarez' X17+ boots).

Although the size labels have been updated, the factory remains in the same location. Pairs from 2013 on wards with the updated size tag have a label in the heel area with the month and year in which they were produced, along with the factory number 502001 and a barcode.

Alonso made his international debut for Spain in April 2003 in a 4–0 victory against Ecuador. While playing for Spain, Alonso won Euro 2008, Euro 2012 and the 2010 World Cup, and he also represented his country at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. On 23 June 2012, Alonso won his 100th cap for Spain in the quarter-final of Euro 2012 against France; he celebrated the occasion by scoring both of Spain's goals to send them into the semi-finals. Spain went on to win the tournament, with Xabi wearing this pair in the process. Following Spain's failure to progress out of the group stages at the 2014 World Cup, Alonso retired from international football on 27 August 2014. His 114 caps make him the seventh-most capped player in the nation's history.

This pair feature an extremely unique soleplate which has been converted from FG to a hybrid FG/SG configuration, presumably by either the Spain or Real Madrid kit man. Alonso has been known to have this done to the majority of his pairs that he wore from around 2011 on wards, usually opting for FG and having them converted, regardless of the model. He mostly wore the Predator silo, however he did also toy with wearing the NitroCharge and AdiPure silo's too.

Interestingly, Alonso has the metal SG studs positioned differently to Adidas' usual layout SG layout - which may be the reason for him having an FG pair converted. However, usually with SG soleplates from any manufacturer there are strengthened parts to make the boot more rigid and allow for less flexibility so that the balance is correct. So when wearing a converted FG, pair you may find it bends and flexes in some areas that a natural SG plate simply wouldn't which can cause discomfort. Each to their own, Xabi...

Another cool feature is the fact that where the FG studs on the Sprint Frame of this model were always made triangular, the ones on Xabi's pair have been made rounded/conical instead. Lots of top pros such as Gerrard and Xavi also opted for this on their Predator LZ's, regardless of whether the soleplate was FG or SG.

On 23 June 2012, Alonso played his 100th match for Spain in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament against France in which he scored both goals in a 2–0 victory. The first goal came after he headed a cross from the left flank delivered by Jordi Alba, while the second one came from a penalty kick given after Pedro was fouled by Anthony Réveillère in the dying seconds of the match. Alonso's penalty in the semi-final shoot-out against Portugal was saved by Rui Patrício in which Spain went on to win 4–2 after a 0–0 draw in the game itself. Spain went on to beat Gianluigi Buffon and Italy 4–0 in the finals; this was Alonso's third major title win with Spain.

The number written inside the heel area is Xabi's custom ID number which the craftsmen inside the Athlete Services factory use to identify who the boots are for and to which specification. On the 2013 on wards models with the updated size label, this information is on printed on the label inside the heel area as opposed to being written in.

 

A complete, consistent, hardworking and versatile midfielder, Alonso is regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation, and was effective both creatively and defensively. Gifted with good technique, excellent vision, and varied passing range, he excelled in the centre in a deep-lying play-making role, where he utilised his accurate long passing ability to create goal scoring chances for teammates; he also utilised a powerful and accurate shot from distance, and he was an effective set-piece and penalty kick taker. Due to his height, positioning, and physical characteristics, Xabi Alonso was also effective in the air, often contributing with headed goals from set pieces when he advanced into more offensive positions. In addition to his creative attributes, he was also capable of excelling as a defensive midfielder due to his strength and powerful physique, combined with his tenacity, tactical intelligence, aggressive tackling and his ability to read the game. He was at times criticised, however, for occasionally committing rash challenges and for his tendency to lose his composure and pick up unnecessary cards for particularly hard fouls.

As with most top professional players, Xabi wore custom orthopaedic insoles in his match boots. Most of the time players will take these out and use them in every pair basically until they fall apart, however this pair came with the insoles still in, so a rare feature. They feature a suede lining and are extremely stiff, with them also being made wider to fit the boots as they are wider than standard pairs, with them being made to his specs. Interestingly, these are also made by Adidas whereas most pros insoles are made by companies such as Podoactiva.

The Predator LZ retail versions featured the optional Mi Coach which was the stat tracking technology available at the time, by purchasing the chip and clipping it into the cavity inside the left boot. Pro players never actually used this technology, it was more for the commercial side to offer customers a taste of feeling like a pro with being able to have match/training data - which was a first at the time. Xabi's pair have the"mi" logo however the cavity itself is not hollow and is blocked off.

The heel area of each boot is considerably softer than the retail versions, with them being filled with a lot more padding. A big problem with this model was blistering in the heel area due to the materials used, so Adidas may have tried to rectify that for Alonso.

Above: Alonso wearing this pair in an El Clasico La Liga tie during the 2012-13 season at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.

Adidas have also personalised each boot with "Alonso 14" to the outstep, for the finishing touch. Since retiring, Steven Gerrard has claimed that he believes Alonso was the best midfielder he has ever played alongside. Moreover, in 2017, managing great Pep Guardiola described Alonso as one of the best midfielders he had ever seen in his life.


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