Xabi Alonso bade Liverpool a fond farewell after completing his move to Real Madrid last night - but admitted he had been "determined" to leave for some time.
Alonso was presented as a Real Madrid player last night after signing a five-year contract at the Bernabeu.
The Basque midfielder joins Madrid from Liverpool for around £30million and was unveiled at the stadium yesterday evening.
The 27-year-old Spain international arrived in the capital after a fee was agreed between Liverpool and Real.
Alonso then underwent various tests and met his new team-mates for training yesterday afternoon.
The midfielder is Madrid's eighth summer signing, taking the Primera Division giants' spending to more than £220million in only two months.
Madrid president Florentino Perez has brought in Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Raul Albiol, Esteban Granero, Alvaro Arbeloa, Alvaro Negredo and Karim Benzema as he attempts to build a team capable of challenging Barcelona's treble winners.
"It's a very happy day for me," said Alonso. "It's an important step in my career to come to a club like Real Madrid.
"I'm very happy to be part of this club and I was very excited for this day to arrive.
"It's the best opportunity for me to develop as a footballer."
The transfer sees Alonso return to Spain after five years away from his homeland.
And, while he enjoyed his time on Merseyside, the former Real Sociedad player admitted he decided before the end of the season the time was right to move on.
"I am very grateful to Liverpool fans, they were very warm during my five years," he continued. "It will be really difficult to match their appreciation.
"I really enjoyed those five years.
"But a few months ago I took that decision as I thought it was the right moment to find a fresh challenge, to look for a new club.
"That's when Real Madrid came along. Luckily a deal has been done and I'm very happy.
"It is a personal challenge I felt is necessary for my football career."
The transfer was one of the most protracted deals of the summer but Alonso claims he always believed he would be at the Bernabeu before the start of the season.
"I didn't have all the cards in my hand but I was confident," he said. "A while back I became determined to leave.
"The end result was what I wished for, here I am and I am very happy."
Reports suggest Alonso's relationship with Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez disintegrated after he professed his desire to leave.
However, Alonso insists he has nothing but respect for his former boss.
"I have repeated over and over again that the relationship was a professional one, of mutual respect, a normal one between coach and player," he said.
"I respect him and thank him for the opportunity he gave me.
"The goodbyes were quite brief, everything happened very quickly and I didn't have time to say goodbye properly.
"I want to return to say goodbye to my team-mates and Rafa.
"As everything was very quick I hardly had time so as soon as I can I will say goodbye as I should have done."Reuse content