All aboard ChelseaÃ¢ÂÂs private jet
FFT's Gregg Davies cadges a luxurious lift with the league leaders
Ever wondered what itÃ¢ÂÂs like to live the life of a professional footballer?
So did we, and luckily weÃ¢ÂÂve had the chance to find out, thanks to an invite on board ChelseaÃ¢ÂÂs private jet en route to Roma. The Blues have been synonymous with the jet-set for longer than you might think. Before Roman's roubles started a revolution in the game, before the 1995 signing of Ruud Gullit opened the Stamford Bridge doors to a welcome wave of exotic and exciting foreigners, before even the Swinging Sixties King's Road pomp of Osgood, Cooke and Hudson Ã¢ÂÂ Chelsea were the first English side to fly to a domestic away match, when they visited Newcastle United on April 19 1957.
Half a century later, propellor planes are a distant memory for today's high-risers. With its sofa-like seats, mozzarella meals and extensive in-flight entertainment including Sex and the City and a late 90s episode of Frasier, the Titan Airways 757 from Gatwick was more akin to a posh restaurant than the shin-barking economy flights your correspondent is far more used to.
"Right to the back please, Mr Davies"
I had only received the call late last Wednesday evening asking if IÃ¢ÂÂd fancy going to watch Chelsea face AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico this Tuesday evening. Ã¢ÂÂDo I fancy it?! Is the Pope Catholic?!Ã¢ÂÂ said I, or something to that effect.
So Sunday afternoon there I was at Gatwick Airport waiting to mix it with the great and good that is the current Premier League table-toppers, accompanied by a smattering of fellow journalists and two Samsung associates from Ireland and Scotland.
Less than 24 hours earlier IÃ¢ÂÂd been sinking my teeth into a cheese and bacon pastie amid a torrential downpour in Peterborough, prior to watching Hereford suffer their 10th defeat from their opening 15 matches Ã¢ÂÂ making the chance to sample some pasta on the piazza in a land far, far away feel like a godsend.
ChelseaÃ¢ÂÂs private plane is everything youÃ¢ÂÂd expect a wealthy, successful team challenging for both Premier League and Champions League glory to travel in. But after the team had made their discreet arrival on to the plane only moments before take-off, youÃ¢ÂÂd be forgiven for not knowing you were sharing the same air-space as last seasonÃ¢ÂÂs Champions League finalists.
Few stirred from their seats throughout the entire journey, possibly encapsulated by what was taking place on the drop-down TV monitors, where the Channel 4 show Faking It was showing a cycle courier attempting to dupe a panel of judges into thinking he was a professional polo player.
"No, I am Spartacus!"
Still, televisual mysteries notwithstanding, the Blues successfully touched down in the Italian capital late on Sunday evening, a little over 24 hours after humping Sunderland 5-0 at Stamford Bridge to return to the top of the Premier League.
TheyÃ¢ÂÂll now face ailing Serie A side Roma Ã¢ÂÂ who lost 2-0 to Juventus at the weekend leaving them fourth from bottom Ã¢ÂÂ on Tuesday evening, with a win for the visitors all-but-guaranteeing their place in the knockout phase of the Champions League (and quite possibly spelling the end for troubled Giallorossi gaffer Luciano Spalletti).
First, though, Chelsea would have to train at the Stadio Olimpico on Monday evening, and I intended to be there to witness them do it Ã¢ÂÂ as long as I was back from a four-hour guided coach tour around ItalyÃ¢ÂÂs capital with my new friends from Samsung.
Alright for some, isnÃ¢ÂÂt it?
FourFourTwo.com travelled to Rome with Samsung, as part of their Behind The Scenes initiative. Find out more at SamsungFootball.co.uk