MARCOS ALONSO insists he has had the last laugh with his mates after they questioned his wisdom in joining Sunderland.
On-loan Fiorentina left-back Alonso has enjoyed quite a start to his Sunderland career, with his four games in red and white seeing the Black Cats take four points in the Premier League and emerge victorious over two legs against Manchester United to reach Wembley.
The Spaniard became the third generation of his family to appear at Old Trafford in Wednesday night’s memorable Capital One Cup semi-final second leg after his dad appeared for Barcelona there in the 1984 and his grandad for Real Madrid in 1957.
But if Alonso had listened to the advice of his friends back in his homeland, he might not have joined Sunderland.
They were baffled when he told them he was swapping Europa League outfit Fiorentina for the Premier League strugglers, but with Sunderland now heading to Wembley and facing a genuine chance of survival, Alonso says their opinion will have swiftly changed.
Alonso said: “Wednesday was definitely one of the highlights of my career.
“When I spoke to my friends in Spain three weeks ago and I told them I was moving to Sunderland, they said ‘why are you moving to Sunderland? You are at Fiorentina, playing in Europe and you’re going to Sunderland who are at the bottom of the Premier League.’
“But I’m sure when I speak to them this week they’ll say: ‘Sunderland, what a team!’
“I’m really happy now.
“We can’t get too high because we’re still in a difficult situation in the league and we need to play how we have been doing, keep going and keep the team in the league.
“But now there’s the present of playing at Wembley against a great team like Manchester City.
“I’ve played four games now and I’ve had some great experiences.”
Alonso is hoping for a better experience of Wembley in March’s final against Man City after he was an unused substitute for Bolton in their 5-0 demolition at the hands of Stoke in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final.
“I played in the semi-final there with Bolton and we got beat 5-0,” he said.
“But it’s a really good chance to go back and let’s see what happens.”
Before Sunderland run out at Wembley for their first major cup final in 22 years though, Alonso realises Gus Poyet’s side still have plenty to do.
While Alonso is likely to be rested for tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth round visit of Kidderminster, he will be back for next week’s crucial Premier League double header against Stoke and Newcastle, as the Black Cats look to strengthen their survival hopes.
“In football, you can never celebrate because one week you can be the best team in the world and the next week, everything can change,” he added.
“We just need to keep working hard and I’m sure the team is capable of doing great things here.”