The Spain international looks back on an intriguing time growing up that led him to the Camp Nou side, before making the move to Germany later on
When your father is a professional footballer, you quickly get used to moving from one place to the next and having to make new friends time and time again.
It was no different for Bayern Munich star Thiago Alcantara.
The Spain international was born in Italy while his father Mazinho played for Lecce, before his dad returned to Brazil at Palmeiras, and then moved to Spain for spells with Valencia and Celta Vigo.
It’s then quite convenient to have a little brother to keep you company regardless of the city you find yourself living in.
“I have a collection of great memories from my childhood because I was with my brother all the time,” Thiago told Goal.
“We are very close and the difference in age was less than two years. He was my shadow and it was awesome.
“We had different great moments, playing in all the cities where my dad played after the games, at school playing with friends.”
It was in Vigo that Thiago took playing football with friends to the next level.
The 28-year-old was one of the standout performers in the ED Val Minor Nigran team that that saw off several of Spain’s biggest clubs.
His performances did not go unnoticed elsewhere and he eventually ended up joining Barcelona at the tender age of 14, snubbing Real Madrid in the process.
“I was playing in a team in my hometown of Vigo. My mom didn’t allow me to play on my dad’s former team because my dad had some issues when he was a player. My mom didn’t allow me or my brother to go there,” Thiago added.
“So we played in a team and my friends from school were there. We had a great season. We beat Real Madrid. We beat Celta. We beat Deportivo. We beat all the teams in Spain.
“One game when we played Barcelona, after the game, my dad said, ‘Thiago, I didn’t want to tell you before but they want you to be part of Barcelona next year. So what do you think?’
“At that moment, you get shocked because Barcelona was a great team. Also at that time, he told me about Madrid and other great clubs. But my decision was very precise.”
His move to Barcelona saw him team up with some of the best players around in his age category, but there was one youngster in particular that stood out.
“At that time, it was a guy from Israel who impressed me the most, Gai Assulin,” Thiago continued.
“He was my age and he was one step quicker than me, all the time. He reached the second team but then he didn’t reach the first team, and he was not consistent in the first division. At the end, he was playing in the second and third division in Spain.
“But he was the biggest talent that I saw at La Masia.”
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After impressing at Barcelona’s famed academy, Thiago eventually made the step up to the first team and he loved learning from his more experienced team-mates.
“As a professional, I’m not a guy who could get impressed with players, but I have a lot of respect for them,” the midfielder went on.
“The amount of respect at that moment was, ‘Wow!’ You are excited to play against them, to learn with them, to fight with them. This is very exciting.
“But I always look at their behaviour, how they are on the field, how they are in the locker room. For me, that was more important. I have respect for a guy because of how he is, not because he’s a football player.”
The Spain international made his official first-team debut at Barcelona in 2009 at the tender age of 18, but he eventually opted to leave Camp Nou for Bayern Munich in 2013 in search of greater first-team opportunities.
He has since gone on to make close to 200 appearances in all competitions, winning six Bundesliga titles and two DFB Pokals in the process.
With players such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben having left the club, Thiago is now one of the more experienced heads at Bayern and he is looking forward to taking on the extra responsibility that comes with it.
“The players we have now have to take this role. Before, those legends were there. Very young people are coming, people with experience but also who are younger than us,” the former Barcelona midfielder went on.
“We have to lead them in some way and, also, learn from them. It will be a great mix and we are very excited about it.”
Both Robben and Ribery completed a full decade at Bayern, but Thiago does not know just yet whether he could achieve the same.
“I’m just trying to enjoy this job, this passion that I have, to leave with this feeling every morning when I wake up,” he concluded.
“You have to keep going that way. In three years, you never know. I don’t want to make plans. I hate plans. Let’s live today and live tomorrow.”