Football club locker rooms have become increasingly luxurious, particularly those belonging to the world’s top teams, which are often extravagant. Rightfully so, as they’re more than just a place to change and store players’ possessions – they also play a major role in team bonding and building.
As leading players across the globe prepare for the start of the 2018 World Cup (which kicks off in Russia on 14th June) we take a look at the locker rooms belonging to 10 of Europe’s top domestic teams – many of their players will be heading to Moscow this month!
1. Real Madrid
Winning the Champions League 3-1 in a thrilling final against Liverpool compensated for the Spanish team’s disappointing third place in La Liga this season. The locker room at the Estadio Bernabéu is included on the stadium tour, so visitors can have their photo taken next to the players’ lockers. The facility includes rows of tiled showers and comfortable massage beds. Coached by Julen Lopetegui and captained by ace Real Madrid defender, Sergio Ramos, Spain is off to the World Cup! The bookmakers have put the odds of the team winning at 6-1.
2. Manchester United
The English Premier League runners-up normally keep their Old Trafford locker room fiercely private – a place where Jose Mourinho conducts his team talks. Located in the stadium’s south-east corner, it boasts a warm-up room with hi-tech fitness facilities, massage tables, six showers, three baths, a flat-screen TV, the tactics board and a sound system. Among the players in England’s World Cup squad under coach Gareth Southgate are defender Phil Jones, 26, left-back Ashley Young, 32, midfielder Jesse Lingard, 25, and forward Marcus Rashford, 20. England’s odds of winning the trophy are 16/1.
AFC Ajax finished second in the Dutch Eredivisie this season. As Holland’s most successful football club, they have won 33 Eredivisie titles and 18 KNVB Cups. They are based at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam (otherwise known as the Amsterdam Arena), where the locker room is decked out in red and white – the colours of the Ajax home shirt. State-of-the-art lockers span the walls, with a rail in each for the kit and a matching red built-in chair in front of each. The Ajax club logo is painted on the ceiling. Sadly, Holland failed to qualify for the World Cup 2018.
4. AC Milan
Italian team AC Milan finished sixth in Serie A this season. They play at San Siro Stadium – nicknamed Milan’s “temple of football” that boasts 80,000 seats. The locker room includes the coaching staff’s changing and meeting room, a 30 metres square massage room with four ergonomic beds, a physiotherapy bed and a medical room. Fixtures and fittings are made of rolled aluminium, with a huge mirror wall to make the room appear even more spacious. Italy failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1958. The four-time world champions suffered a shock elimination to Sweden in the play-offs.
5. Inter Milan
Fellow Italian team Inter Milan (Internazionale Milano) finished fourth in Serie A. They share the San Siro Stadium with local rivals AC Milan, but both home teams have their own individual locker room. Inter’s locker room, like AC Milan’s, is about 200 metres square. Personalised in the club colours of black and blue, the facilities are pretty much the same. The San Siro has three locker rooms, including one for the visiting team. Although Italy isn’t in the World Cup, a couple of Inter’s players – Brazilians João Miranda de Souza Filho and Rafael Alcântara do Nascimento – play for their national team, which is 4-1 favourite to win the tournament.
Also known as Olympiacos, the Greek team finished third in the Superleague Greece. They are based at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus (known as the peace and friendship arena) that was built in 1985. The ultra-modern stadium enjoys state-of-the-art changing rooms and a medical centre. The locker rooms are kitted out in the team colours, red and white. In 2004, the club built its own modern training Centre at Agios Ioannis Rentis, including changing rooms, showers, restrooms, gym, an ergometric and physiotherapy centre and a pool. The Greek national team didn’t qualify for this year’s World Cup.
7. FC Porto
Futebol Clube do Porto won the Primeira Liga (the top flight of Portuguese football) this season with 88 points. 4km north-east of Porto’s centre, the team’s home ground at the Estadio do Dragao stadium was opened in 2003 – it was a flagship venue for Euro 2004. The changing rooms are equipped with lockers in Porto’s colours of blue and white, with a giant Porto logo on the ceiling. Portugal have made it through to the World Cup, with the bookies giving odds of 25/1 for the team to win. Porto defender Chidozie, 21, has received his call-up to the Nigerian national squad for the tournament, while fellow defender Maxi Pereira will be playing for Uruguay.
Turin-based Juventus finished top of the Italian Serie A this season. Based at Juventus Stadium (otherwise known as the Allianz Stadium), where the locker room is one of the most spectacular in the world, lockers line both walls of the spacious changing area that is decked in the striking black and white colours of the Juventus strip. Complete with built-in black seating and floor-level storage space for boots, there are also four massive flat-screen TVs suspended from the ceiling. Although Italy didn’t make it to the World Cup, Juventus’ midfielder Rodrigo Bentancur has been called up for his national squad, Uruguay.
9. Atletico Madrid
The Spanish club plays at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium – its new home ground since the start of the 2017/18 season. Facilities include a state-of-the-art pitch and huge home dressing room. Rows of crisp red and white shirts line the walls, while a stunning version of the Atletico Madrid club crest is painted on the ceiling. Every player has a comfortable leather armchair to relax before and after each home match. Athletico finished second in La Liga this season, behind champions Barcelona. Nine Athletico players represent five different countries at the World Cup, including Koke, Diego Costa and Saúl Ñíguez in the Spanish squad.
10. Manchester City
Coached by Pep Guardiola, the English Premier League champions broke 11 records, including becoming the first side to reach 100 points and with the biggest ever margin between the runners-up, as Manchester United were 19 points behind. The locker room at the Etihad Stadium enjoyed a substantial renovation at the start of the 2017/18 season. Described as looking as though it might have been “inspired by Star Wars”, it includes white lockers positioned in a circular design around the giant club logo painted on the floor. Black and white built-in seats and white cubby-holes for boots complete the lockers. Manchester City players who have received their England call-up include Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 10, 2017
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We will, of course, be cheering on The Three Lions in the World Cup!