On The Road with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Chelsea FC's world-famous centre forward shares some tips from a lifetime spent travelling the globe.

When you’ve competed among the elite in football, you know what’s what. And Chelsea hotshot Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang knows what’s what, particularly, it turns out, what to eat for breakfast.

“Pastries.” Ah, OK. Healthy pastries? There might be healthy ones, right? “I like pain au chocolat and croissants, with hot chocolate. For me, that’s the best.” Oh. Right you are.

Auba’s choice of breakfast might not be what a dietician would recommend, but it’s definitely French — which, you could argue, shows just how sophisticated and well-travelled this 33-year-old striker is. His career has taken him from Italy to France to Germany to England to Spain, and back to England, landing up at Stamford Bridge at the start of this season. He’s one of European football’s most well-respected strikers, a master of the art of putting the ball in the back of the net.

And, it turns out, he’s just as good when it comes to languages. He can speak five: English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Really? Let’s put that to the test. How would you order water in, say, French?

“Est-ce que je peux avoir de l’eau?”

Pas mal. How about Spanish?

“Agua, por favor.”

Muy bien! Auba really knows his stuff. This is a man who’s at home across Europe and beyond, a sophisticate who’s got travelling down to a T. So what tips does he have for the rest of us?

1. Don't Bother Getting to the Departure Gate Early

“Do I turn up early or late?” Laughter. “Last minute!” More laughter. “You ask me this question …” Even more laughter. It’s obviously a funny question. So what Aubameyang is saying is that he likes travelling in a state of anxiety, in order that arriving at his destination is an unexpected bonus? “Exactly.” Well, there you go. That’s certainly one way to make your holiday more exciting.

2. Stick to Food You Know

You might expect a man who’s lived in a half-dozen countries, with roots in Europe and Africa, to be willing to try anything when it comes to food. We know how much he likes French pastries, after all. So is he adventurous or does he play it safe when it comes to trying new things? “You’ve got to play it safe,” he says, very firmly. Really? Is he not inspired by his team-mate Ben Chilwell, who apparently enjoys a delicious combination of fish fingers and ice cream? “Ha, that’s Chilly,” he says. We’ll take that as a no, then.

3. Ludo or Headphones, It's All Good

Who does Auba like to sit next to on the Chelsea bus? Turns out that he’s not fussed. “When I travel, I don’t care, I’m happy to be with anyone,” he says. Excellent attitude. Sociable, too? “If we go from the hotel to the game, I like to have the headphones,” he says. (Apparently, he enjoys bringing the music with him like Christian Pulisic.) But there’s more to it. “Armando Broja plays ludo with some guys, that can get intense!” And what about dishing the dirt? Who doesn’t he like sitting next to? “You know I’m new, I don’t want to upset people!”

4. Learn From the Best

It’s always worth seeing how the greats do things when they’re travelling, according to Auba—and he’s played with some really great players. “I remember when I first went away overnight with a professional football team, I was with my brother, and it was good because I had the experience to see players like Seedorf, Ronaldo, Gattuso…I was with eyes like this [makes an impression of very wide eyes], I was so so happy.” Who wouldn’t be?

5. Be Flexible—Or Not

Flexibility is a vital component when travelling, but it’s not something every top footballer has mastered, according to Auba. Take Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé, for example. “Whenever I went away with Barcelona, Dembélé would always want to sit in the same place. If someone was there, he would say ‘move!'” Bit rude, but I guess we all have our foibles.

6. For Romance, Head to Italy…

When it comes to romance, you can’t beat Italy. Rome is literally where the word “romance” comes from, for goodness sake, but it’s another Italian city that has captured Auba’s heart. “For our 10th wedding anniversary, my wife and I went to Milan. There’s a picture of us in front of the Duomo. If we’re going somewhere romantic, it’s usually Italy.” That sounds nice, but there are lots more to explore in Italy—so where next? “She wants me to take her to Venice—you’re going to see me driving a water taxi!” Romantic and useful, you can’t say fairer than that.

...While Spain is Best With Your Friends

If Italy is for romance, then where’s best for an all-bets-are-off style holiday with your pals? “If I could take the Chelsea team anywhere, it would be Spain.” Marbella? “Why not—or maybe Ibiza?” I’m not sure the gaffer’s going to be too happy with that, Auba. He chuckles. “Yeah, for sure!” As long as there are no pastries involved, though, it should be OK.

And that’s that: the lowdown on travel from a man who’s done much, much more than most. One final question, though. Is there anywhere you don’t like to visit? He scratches his head. “Liverpool, that’s a tough place to go.”

What? Why? Don’t you like the locals? No, it’s just a football thing. He’s right, Anfield can be a very tough place to get a result. (But it’s a great place to visit a sports pub.)

Luckily, Auba is much more easygoing. Let’s hope there are many more great trips ahead, particularly with Chelsea—and happy flights or coach rides home, too. Just go easy on the Ludo.

All images belong to Chelsea FC | Source: @chelseafc (Instagram)