In our feature finding out what the Chelsea players enjoy away from football, Marcos Alonso picks three other sports he is passionate about.
We all know Alonso is the youngest member of a famous footballing family, but it is clear speaking to him he grew up in a sports-mad environment and tried his hand at several different ones in his native Spain.
Asked to talk in more detail about three of his hobbies unrelated to football, Alonso opts for padel tennis, horse racing and, first, golf…
Learning from greatness
‘I used to play golf at a good level when I was a kid,’ he tells us.
‘My father used to play a bit and others in my mother’s family as well. My father is from Santander, where Seve Ballesteros is from. They were very good friends, actually. They played together sometimes in Santander, and I went to school with Seve’s son, Javier.
‘I met Seve as well. It was amazing for me. One time we went to his house after school and he had a small course in his garden. I remember he made us play only with a 7-iron – even putting with a 7-iron. He said he used to do that himself because it was good to get the feel. That was one of the best days of my life.
Decision to make
‘But in the end I couldn’t do both football and golf – I didn’t have enough time. At some point I had to choose whether to keep going to golf lessons or keep going to football. My mum laughs when I tell this story because I was so young, but I said, ‘Listen, mum. Football is my life’.
‘I tried to train with the Madrid team for a few weeks, but it was too tight, with football as well. I used to be good with the driver, but now I have no good shots! To be honest, choosing between golf and football was a no-brainer for me. I kept playing football seriously and I just play golf for fun with my friends now, when I’m on holiday.
‘I was playing golf when I found out I was signing for Real Madrid at 12 years old. I remember they had already called my home one day and asked me to go for a trial.
‘We played a couple of games before going on summer holiday and, during the summer, they called again, but I was playing golf, so my father – who is a Barca and Atletico supporter – took the call. My mum had to tell me they wanted me because my dad didn’t even want to mention it!’
A day at the races
‘Horse racing has also been in my family for a while. My dad’s sister and brother used to ride when they were younger. After that my uncle became a trainer. I always like to follow his horses.
‘I have a couple of friends who ride in Spain and here in England. It’s great to follow them in their careers and see them winning, in the same way they follow my football. We support each other.
‘I’ve been to courses in Madrid and in San Sebastien in Spain, and here in England I’ve been to Newmarket, and I’ve been to Sandown, which is near the training ground.
‘In Spain horse racing is not one of the main sports but it has its public. For me having family involved, it’s easier to be able to follow and to go and watch and stay updated.
‘I never rode when I was younger, though! I stuck to ball sports. Maybe I will try it when I have retired.’
‘Some of the players are starting to play!’
‘Padel tennis is becoming quite a big thing worldwide, but we used to play in Spain long ago. I remember playing with my friends when I was younger in the off season.
‘The main difference between padel and tennis is the walls. With padel you have the first chance to hit it, and if you miss it you have another chance off the wall. It makes it easier, more physical and in my opinion more fun to play than tennis!
‘It’s a great way of spending time with friends, competing away from football and helping maintain your fitness.
‘In Spain there are many courts, not like in England, although they are starting to pop up here, and we are creating a group at Chelsea. The other Spaniards play, the Germans are starting to play as well. Tim, one of the fitness coaches, is a massive fan, and Petr Cech likes to play as well.
‘It’s good fun to get together away from football, and it’s great for the atmosphere in the changing room.’