Travel is part of life for footballers, and commercial opportunities have taken plenty of teams to the land down under in recent years, even if they are playing in exhibition competitions rather than the Australian league.
It is always interesting to have a peek at the kind of things the players do off the pitch, and the culture (plus the weather) in Australia is certainly different from that in Europe, where most pros still play. Encounters with kangaroos, jungle antics, and casino gambling are all part of the hobbies and activities that players have explored when they are in Australia.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Casino Gambling
Cristiano Ronaldo is not just one of the best footballers ever, he’s a global superstar and a household name. A lot of casino brands as well as other businesses have taken advantage of his mass following, signing Cristiano up as an ambassador. Multiple casino brands have done exactly this as the Portuguese star has a reputation for gambling at the tables.
This includes when the former-Madrid star is in Australia, as Ronaldo plays poker plus other casino games, and has been seen playing at the Crown Casino in Melbourne during his downtime during a tour, back when he was a Real Madrid player. He was in Australia for the International Champions Cup which was a pre-season tournament hosted by Australia and China. There were some big teams involved and Madrid played AC Milan, Roma, and Manchester City.
As well as being spotted at in-person casinos in Australia, many football superstars play online at a live casino in Australia to enjoy the anonymity of playing online but also be able to play their favorite games. They’re not going to get bombarded with paparazzi by logging into an online poker game or connecting to a live dealer on a casino site.
Australia allows casino gambling and there aren’t the same sort of strict restrictions we sometimes see in other countries, so some of the players who have been to Australia on pre-season tours take advantage of the fact that online gambling and pokies are widely available.
Harry Kane and James Maddison – Golf
Australia is the home of Spurs head coach Ange Postecoglu, and he took his Tottenham team back to Australia on a pre-season tour before leading them into his first Premier League season.
Star players Harry Kane (before his move to Munich) and James Maddison decided to take part in a round of golf, and when their friendly competition took a turn for the weird, they decided to share it on Instagram.
The bizarre occurrence they won’t have been expecting? A kangaroo boxing match right in the middle of their game, which the soccer stars definitely found comical judging by their reactions.
We know that golf is popular among footballers anyway and Australia has some superb (if roasting hot) golf courses that people can enjoy when they get some downtime, there have been many footballers heading to the links when not playing matches.
Heading to the Jungle
“I’m a Celebrity: Get Me Out of Here!”
This is a massive hit show and plenty of footballers (plus people related to the football industry) have been in the jungle to undertake the crazy bushtucker trials and the tribulations of weeks in the jungle eating rice and beans.
Among the players who have been in I’m a Celebrity’s reality show are Ian Wright, David Ginola, and Kieron Dyer, and they’ve definitely had some mixed experiences, with some of the players not really enjoying the experience. Ian Wright said about his time in the jungle:
“They let me down by not showing the whole picture of who I am. I’m never far away from feeling like I could cry. I have very deep feelings that I’ve had to learn to deal with, but I still have my moments.”
David Ginola was one of the fan favourites, and in a recent series, it was Lionesses footballer Jill Scott who gained the nation’s love, as she was named Queen of the Jungle in spite of being less famous than many of her competitors. Scott had only recently retired after winning the Euros with England Women, and since going on the show she has carved a career in punditry both for the men’s and women’s games, this was an incredibly smart career move for her as she showed her charisma and gained the love of the nation.
Footballers will be footballers, and you might not see many of them in Aussie cultural hotspots, snorkelling, or visiting the Opera House, but there are certain hobbies footballers seem to be drawn to including casino gaming and golf. Footballing A-listers like Ronaldo and Harry Kane draw a lot of attention wherever they go and Australia is no different, so there are always stories about the casinos they’ve visited or the games they’re playing off the pitch.