Xabi Alonso has revealed he regrets the fact he never got a proper chance to say goodbye to Liverpool fans after deciding to quit Anfield and join Real Madrid in 2009.
The Spanish midfielder - now of Bayern Munich - enjoyed five successful seasons on Merseyside after arriving in England as part of the Rafa Benitez revolution in the summer of 2004.
During that time Alonso established himself as a firm favourite with the club's vociferous set of supporters, and he relished the opportunity to revisit his former stomping ground at the weekend after taking part in Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard's charity All-Star game.
The 33-year-old reflected fondly on his time with the Premier League giants and said in many ways it felt like he had never left, thanks to the warm reception he was afforded on his first appearance in front of the Kop since making a beeline to the Bernabeu almost five years ago.
"Wow. I was really looking forward to this game," Alonso was quoted by the club's official website telling Liverpool TV. "It was really special and really emotional.
"When I left, I didn't have the chance to say a proper goodbye. Today was a kind of 'hello' to everyone - it was great to be back home. It was a great feeling.
"It brought all the memories back. It felt like I hadn't left for a long time. I was feeling at home. It's always special to be back at Anfield, to be in front of the crowd. It was a great reception and I am really happy."
Alonso was just one of a number of returning stars that featured in Sunday's showpiece encounter, with Luis Suarez, Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina also among the former players to turn out for the event.
The match ended in a 2-2 draw as Gerrard's XI - which included Alonso - came back from two goals down to secure a share of the spoils, with the soon to be departing Reds skipper netting twice from the penalty spot after Carragher fouled Suarez in the box.
"It was great to be back here and great to help the charities," - Xabi Alonso
"Some things don't change - Stevie scoring, Carra giving away penalties! Life goes on the same way," joked Alonso after the game. "I took it for granted that Carra would be fully committed and fully determined to win the game. It was great fun.
"Everything turned out perfectly. It was great to be back here and great to help the charities and it was nice to see a lot of people again."
The spectacle proved popular with Liverpool supporters who turned out in full force to catch a glimpse of their heroes - old and new - making the most of a rare occasion to see certain players in the flesh again.
Alonso is one player in particular that many fans feel left the club too soon, but they couldn't begrudge him an opportunity to join one of the two biggest clubs in La Liga, just like Suarez did when he joined Barcelona in a £75 million deal last summer.
At least the Spaniard finally got his chance to bid a fond farewell to the fans that made his stay in England so special, reuniting with former midfield partner Gerrard who is also heading for the Anfield exit at the end of the season.
Liverpool fans: Where does Xabi Alonso rate on the club's list of best ever players? Has there been a better central midfield partnership than him and current skipper Steven Gerrard? Share your thoughts below…
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