Former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso has spoken for the first time of the anguish and heartache he felt when taking the decision to end his five-year spell on Merseyside.
In an exclusive interview with LFCTV, an emotional Alonso thanked fans for the unwavering support he received throughout his stay at Anfield, but insisted the time was right to undertake a new chapter in his career.
"It was difficult because Liverpool has been and always will be very special. It is in my heart because I have lived very intense things there," he said.
"It was really difficult to tell the fans what my decision was, but sometimes you have to follow your feelings and that was my feeling at that moment."
In 210 appearances, which incorporated 19 goals and endless man of the match performances, Alonso quickly propelled himself to hero status amongst Liverpool fans.
And having helped the Reds to Champions League glory in his first season, the 29-year-old Spaniard added FA Cup and Community Shield triumphs to his Liverpool tenure the following year.
Reflecting on past successes, Alonso stated how the club will forever be close to his heart, and that the unrivalled support will never, ever be forgotten.
"I always had full respect for Liverpool before I signed because I had heard all the stories and the tradition that they had," he continued.
"But once you are involved, if you like football and like the passion from the fans and the important things that matter in football then you will love Liverpool.
"That is what it is all about, about football, about respecting the game and about supporting the team and you can live that in Liverpool better than anywhere else.
"I was for five seasons so pleased and so privileged to be part of the Liverpool family and I just want to say thank you to you all."
After speaking of his heartfelt connection to Anfield, the interview concluded with Alonso being posed the question of whether he would consider a return to Liverpool.
"Why not? I think that in football so many things change, and why not? I have my Red passion and if circumstances arrived then why not?
"At the moment I don't know what is going to happen, but it could be a possibility. Never say never."