How Do Footballers Travel? – Full Guide
Footballers and managers frequently complain about their hectic schedules. It is now common for teams to play games only two or three days apart. Of course, this means little sleep, but it’s easy to overlook the fact that the team must travel to and from these games. This can be exhausting in and of itself.
As a result, top football players must travel in comfort and at a rapid pace. Anyone who has played Sunday league football will be familiar with the cramped minibus that transports the team to and from games on weekends. It goes without saying that top-level footballers travel very differently. Coaches, planes, private jets, and hotel stays provide greater comfort and style.
Footballers travel primarily for domestic and European matches. Premier League footballers are fortunate in some ways because the United Kingdom is relatively small in size. The country is not only larger than other European countries such as Spain and Italy.
This means more travel, but they also have island-based teams in their top leagues. This makes travel difficult, especially for clubs on the island like Las Palmas, RCD Mallorca, and Cagliari. Footballers must travel to training as well as contract talks and medicals when transferring to another team.
Footballers Travel to Matches
How do Footballers Travel to both Home & Away Games?
In the UK, for an away game, if the journey time is less than 3 hours, teams will frequently travel by coach. In fact, clubs try to limit footballers’ travel time to no more than three hours, as any more can have a negative impact on performance due to stiffness and muscle problems.
Depending on the start time and distance, the team may spend the night in a nearby hotel. With a kickoff time of 12:30, for example., traveling first thing in the morning would be too early and risky. Football clubs recommend that their players live within a 30-60-minute commute of the practice facility. Footballers travel to the training ground on their own before boarding a coach to their hotel for the night.
Attending games, you’ll notice that even the home team arrives by coach. Players could easily make their own way to the stadium; however, arriving together is much easier, safer, and better for team dynamics. The players would drive to the training facility as usual and board the coach to the stadium.
Teams would frequently fly for journeys of more than 3 or 4 hours. The club would charter a passenger jet and fly the players and backroom staff together. Southern Premier League clubs, including London clubs, would frequently fly to Northern cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, and, of course, Newcastle. These flights typically take 1-2 hours and are scheduled the day before the game.
The only time the team would travel on the day would be if the game started in the evening (7:45 PM – 8:00 PM). Football clubs prefer to arrive early in order to prepare for the game by training in or near the stadium, holding team meetings, and ensuring that the team is well-rested at the hotel. Footballers, on the other hand, return home as soon as possible after the game, frequently flying on the same day.
Infamous Match-Travelling Events in England
Arsenal was chastised in 2015 for using a chartered jet to fly to Norwich, which is only 100 miles from North London. The flight was only 14 minutes long, whereas traveling by coach would have taken about 2 hours. Environmentalists were clearly outraged by the carbon emissions associated with unnecessary flying.
All clubs are under the same amount of pressure to reduce carbon emissions, and as a result, domestic travel in the Premier League is seeing fewer flights.
Manchester United players were recently seen boarding a train following their victory over Watford. At the station, there was an altercation between players and members of the public, which resulted in Marouane Fellaini slapping a man’s phone out of his hand as he attempted to video the players.
This type of incident most likely explains why footballers mostly travel in private via coach and plane. Manchester United stated that they frequently take the train into London for games. However, now with Covid-19 concerns, football clubs will certainly be traveling privately to avoid the risk of contamination and contact with people outside of their clubs ‘bubble.’
Other Ways how Footballers Travel
Many footballers would have traveled by private jet, but this is not standard practice for getting to games.
The only time top players will travel by private jet is when they are representing their countries in international matches. Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Alisson Becker, and Fabinho, who all represent Brazil internationally, are prime examples of this.
Liverpool prefers to have their players return to Merseyside as soon as possible so that they can rest and attend training sessions in preparation for their next game, so they frequently charter a private jet to get them there.
During the transfer window, teams will also charter a private aircraft. Clubs arrange for prospective new players to come in for a medical and, if everything checks out, to sign a contract. Private jets are sometimes required, especially on a deadline day when time is of the essence.
Football Travelling Disasters
Unfortunately, disasters and fatalities have occurred as a result of footballers traveling with their club. While it is critical to keep the team together while traveling, there is a disadvantage. The Munich air disaster made this painfully clear.
Munich Air Disaster | The Busby Babes
Manchester United was one of the best teams in the world in 1958, having just defeated Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup. Because Belgrade was too far away to fly nonstop, the club planned to land in Munich and refuel.
After refueling, the plane attempted and failed to take off twice due to an engine problem. As the plane attempted to take off for the third time, the runway became increasingly covered in snow and slush. The plane skidded and crashed, killing 23 Manchester United players and staff members.
Another tragic event occurred in South America when the Brazilian Chapecoense football team was on its way to the Copa Sudamericana Finals in 2016. The plane ran out of fuel and crashed, killing 71 players and their entourage. Three players survived, including Alan Ruschel, who miraculously returned to football.
Surprisingly, the Argentinian national team, including Lionel Messi, was reported to be using the same model of the plane shortly after the disaster, and upon landing, they only had 18 minutes of fuel left. In 2016, another tragic event was narrowly avoided.
Emiliano Sala To Cardiff
The Premier League has also recently experienced a catastrophic traveling accident. Emiliano Sala was scheduled to travel from Nantes to Cardiff for his first training session after Cardiff City signed him from Nantes.
The plane was small, and the pilot was not fully qualified to fly it, according to the post-crash report. Tragically, it crashed into the English Channel in an entirely avoidable incident.
The Non-Flying Dutchman
Dennis Bergkamp, a legendary Arsenal player, was notoriously afraid of flying. He explained that this was due to his experience in Italy, where they would travel to away games in small planes.
Bergkamp admitted to having a genuine phobia and considered seeking psychiatric help. Although his managers and fans tolerated his phobia, it was inconvenient for both the club and the player.
Bergkamp was frequently left out of the squad when traveling to European away games due to the difficulty of reaching the destination. Traveling by other means was possible in some cases, but Arsene Wenger revealed that the long travel times were not always worth it.
Covid-19 has also made traveling for football players more difficult. In a hilarious League 1 incident, Oxford United players had to take taxis to their game at the last minute. To combat the risk of Covid-19 exposure, the coach they were scheduled to travel on was thoroughly sprayed with an alcohol-based disinfectant.
However, there was a breathalyzer installed within the coach that the driver had to blow into before the engine could be started. Because the alcohol-based sanitiser had entered the system, the alcohol content in the breathalyzer was so high that the bus couldn’t be driven for 6 hours!
To summarize, footballer travel is an important aspect of the game. A footballer’s job is one of the most travel-intensive jobs available. During the football season, players must adjust to frequent flying, coach trips, and being away from their families.
Fortunately for the players, all they have to do is show up at the training ground, and the transportation is taken care of. The ability of players to adapt to travel must have an impact on performance, and it is bound to influence some of the results seen on television.
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