THEY play the Beautiful Game in the finest arenas in the world before facing the glare of the media spotlight and hopping on a luxury coach home.
This is the life of a top professional footballer – and now an Edinburgh firm is offering all budding Ronaldos a flavour of the superstar treatment.
Football-daft youngsters can experience the feeling of zipping passes along pristine playing surfaces in major UK stadiums – including Tynecastle and Easter Road – before jousting with the press in the post-match interviews and pampering themselves in club coaches.
Bespoke packages offered by Capital firm Trans World Soccer run from one-day tasters to week-long programmes which may include football training in state-of-the-art facilities, challenge matches against local children, stadium tours and tickets to live Premier League matches.
One of the tour visitors, Jack Thomson, 13, said he “loved every minute” of his VIP trip to Newcastle United while Baland Madani, 14, from The House of Knowledge School in Saudi Arabia travelled 3000 miles with school friends for his trip of a lifetime.
“I love football but will never be skillful enough to become a professional, so living the superstar life with my friends was unbelievable,” he said.
The demand for pro-fooballer experiences has exploded in recent years with the firm set to open an office in the United Arab Emirates which now accounts for around a third of their business.
Founded by three Edinburgh University graduates in 2011, Trans World Soccer – based in the Gyle – is now enjoying steller growth and is expecting turnover of £1 million following their expansion to the Middle East this August.
Overseas visitors can expect to pay up to £1000 for flights and a package brimming with bucket-list activities. The tours mostly involve groups of between 30 to 45 children, with average rates varying from £59 for one-day packages to £300 for longer trips.
Firm director Scott Macfarlane, 25, originally from Balerno, explained the concept. “So many kids dream of the footballer’s life but will never get anywhere near it,” he said. “We thought why can’t we offer this to the child on the street to try for a day?”
“The business model has changed to focus on the ultimate player experience – giving kids the life of a superstar.
“That’s where we have experienced the real growth.”
One full-time staff member will now be based permanently in UAE with a further two positions also being created.