Footballer interior design
Footballer interior design

Your reaction to the spate of alleged footballing rule-breakers this weekend was likely defined by your own festive period. If you’ve been good, making sacrifices and bravely muddling through without a private chef you have every right to feel furious. 

If you’ve taken some liberties perhaps you have a new sense of kinship with Premier League players? A thought that ‘there but for the grace of God go I’? Congratulations, though, for resisting the urge to publicise your illegal Boxing Day lunch on social media.

That urge to share was too much for some attendees at questionable Christmas/new year events which allegedly included Luka Milivojevic, Benjamin Mendy, and a coterie of Spurs players with a West Ham pal.

Within the resulting outrage, the gnashing of teeth, the weaponised grandparents, the reports raise another question. Why are footballer’s houses so similar?

The most egregious gathering (of those we know about) was Lamela, Lo Celso, Reguilón and Lanzini-fest 2020, and a case in point:

Group of footballers, friends and families pose for Christmas photo - Twitter
Group of footballers, friends and families pose for Christmas photo – Twitter

This unwisely published photo is the latest insight into extraordinary home lives of Premier League footballers. Stunning partners, heartbreakingly cute children, uniformly clinical houses, seemingly identical lives. Sexy people with large watches and plain white t-shirts which cost more than your best suit.

Witness Manuel Lanzini’s own Christmas day contribution to the Instagram industry:

Beyond the people and the Christmas lights what do we see? A new home, inoffensive modernism, recessed lighting. Interior designers of these homes are either working from the world’s drabbest Pinterest mood boards or stealing a living. Wood-effect floors downstairs, plush carpets upstairs, whites, greys, the clean neutrality of an opulent life: done!

Have none of these footballers ever heard of an accent wall? Clearly they’ve spent too much time in dressing rooms, not enough time watching Changing Rooms.

The default footballer’s home has changed. Photos from the 1970s show sturdy sideboards, sultry sideburns and pleather sofas. In the mock Tudor 80s the sofas got softer, the cushions were from Laura Ashley, and footballers had commuter belt work-from-home desks, before working from home became all-too-realistic.

The difference now is that footballer wealth levels have gone way beyond what a commuting city trader might earn, and chances to show off houses are not limited to when Shoot! magazine send a photographer to visit.

To assess the modern footballer’s home let’s use the archetypal current Premier League club Southampton as a case in point.

An Instagram audit of their players revealed zero Covid rules broken, one fantastic user name (Danny Ings – ingstagram10) several shared design choices, and several players wisely sticking to professionally-taken match or training photos. 

What also comes through is the generosity of spirit. Ryan Bertrand goes big on birthdays:

Stuart Armstrong goes big on Deliveroo:

And Mousa Djnepo has a heartwarming video call, with a rare concession to colours that aren’t grey around him. Gold balloons, you absolute maverick, Mousa! 

These homes are the product of years of dedication. They represent something noble, being able to give families a vastly more comfortable life. You’d have to have a rugby fan’s jealousy of footballer’s wages to feel bitter about that. 

But back on planet bland, feel the prosaic design choices. Fortnite fan Kyle Walker-Peters luxuriates in showhome chic: 

Jannik Vestergaard goes for a combination of white walls and hard floors to support a classic small child big dog strike partnership:

Chè Adams gets behind a good cause with the predictable background of grey paint and a perfect white door which looks to have been opened three times in history:

Nathan Redmond seems to be enjoying himself, but may as well be in the corporate hospitality section of St Mary’s:

And Yan Valery has plenty of picturesque places to relax in fashion choices that are exactly as confusing as they should be to a writer for the Daily Telegraph:

Taken as a whole, with the honourable exception of footwear trailblazer Yan Valery there is a utilitarian, Zuckerbergian simplicity at work. What is driving this dreariness?

Total dedication to your craft leaves no room for chintz. How are you going to realise your full potential, maximise your performance, take the best throw-in you can if you’ve spent the morning distracted by framed photographs of your family?

Perhaps keeping things determindley neutral is part of a mutually assured destruction strategy? In a merciless environment with the ever-present threat of nuclear banter, any slight devitation from the norm can get you mercilessly ripped. Personality-free homes are the only sensible choice. 

There are more banal explanations. Many footballers rent, a sensible option when you could be sold at any moment. These homes are transient spaces to pass through, because who knows when you’re going to be drummed out on loan and suddenly living in the third-best room at the Middlesbrough Premier Inn for six months? 

There is also some admirable restraint at work. Footballers broadly don’t want to be laughed at, nor do most want to look overly flash. There are certainly greater riches we’re not seeing beyond the inane spare rooms that we do. Private cinemas, mini museums with framed shirts, high-spec security, indoor pools, trainers, so many pairs of trainers. The suburban Salford home of surprise self-satirist Marouanne Fellaini included a personal barber’s shop.

This aesthetic flattening is not unique to football. A standard issue ‘hipster’ interior for coffee shops has proliferated out of Brooklyn to the world. You can now have a flat white among exposed brickwork, minimalist wood and stately lamps more or less anywhere.

High-profile footballers would love the opportunity to visit such places but may end up mobbed the moment they leave their mile-long driveway, putting an even greater premium on having the biggest, cleanest, most comforting home possible.

Demand for high-end identikit homes is so fierce there’s a sort of property merry-go-round in the poshest bits of Cheshire, with a limited pool of appropriate houses. Footballers often end up living at houses previously lived in by footballers.

Gawking at these house on property websites is an enjoyable waste of time, but footballers showing us inside still feels like a rare treat. Now way past the glory years of MTV Cribs it’s a revealing glimpse inside lives we hear so much about.

Our top-flight footballers remain oddly unknowable. Elite super-rich men-children, doing an incredibly valuable job at the moment: distracting us. It’s just a shame that the transmissions from their home life have less personality than the average post-match interview.