Barcelona star Lionel Messi not only features in football video games, he also regularly plays them himself. The eight-time LaLiga winner has told interviewers he likes to relax by gaming with friends, and has even gone online anonymously to challenge strangers over the internet. Less competitively, the Argentine has also been seen playing a Barca v Real Madrid 'Clasico' against his five year old son Thiago, although it was never learned who controlled which side.
Many footballers around the world also enjoy a round of golf in their spare time, but few are into the sport quite as much as Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale. Bale is an excellent golf player with a handicap of just six, and is a close friend of 2017 US Masters winner and lifelong Madrid fan Sergio Garcia. The Wales international even recently hired a professional company to recreate three of the ball and stick game’s most famous holes - full size - in the back garden of his family home.
Across the 'Derbi' divide, Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann is a keen horse-racing enthusiast, and part-owner of a prize-winning thoroughbred. Griezmann inherited his passion for the ‘sport of kings’ from his father, and regularly updates his fans via social media on the progress of his stable. Their three year old colt ‘Tornibush’ won its first race last November in France, with jockey Franck Blondel imitating the owner’s goal celebration as he dismounted afterwards.
Meanwhile, Barcelona team captain Gerard Pique likes to relax by playing cards in his free time, and the Catalan centre-back has compared the risks involved in high-stakes poker to the challenge of keeping out LaLiga’s top forwards on the pitch. The Spain international is a serious player who has competed in professional tournaments, with a highest finish of fifth in a world championship event in the Catalan capital in August 2017.
More active is the past-time preferred by Athletic Bilbao centre-forward Aritz Aduriz, an all-rounder who in his youth excelled at other sports including cross-country skiing and snowboarding. Surfing is now his second love [after] football of course], having learned to ride the waves as a teenager on Bilbao’s La Zurriola beach. The veteran still visits renowned surfing spots along the Basque coast such as Zarautz and Biarritz, while he has also taken his board on holidays to Costa Rica and California.