Billy Slater and Dale Thomas on Euro Vacation
Thursday 15 November 2012 12:31 PM
They are superstars from rival codes but Melbourne Storm's Billy Slater and Collingwood's Dale Thomas hooked up in Barcelona last week to shoot an Adidas promotion. News Limited was invited along for the ride, Paul Crawley reports.
As far as end-of-season trips go, this was a cracker. Two of Australia's biggest football stars touring Barcelona, all expenses paid.
For Collingwood's Dale Thomas, it was his first trip to Europe after a week in London with his girlfriend Kylee Carlsen.
Billy Slater and his wife Nicole arrived after their adventure through South Africa, where they visited game parks and swam with great white sharks.
On the first night, they sat around the hotel bar having a couple of beers and trading stories.
Nicole shared the story behind the story of the NRL grand final - and how she missed the big fight because, as she put it, "the kids were chewing my ear off."
That's when her husband piped up, "What about my ear", as Slater recalled the moment Canterbury prop James Graham attacked his ear like it was a T-bone steak.
The stories rolled from one to the next.
Check out the full video of Slater and Thomas on heraldsun.com.au here
They were brought over to try and turn the bustling Barcelona streets into an Aussie sideshow to promote Adidas' new boot, the Adizero F50 - and while they never made the nightly TV news, there's no denying the two players struck up a wonderful friendship.
For two days they cruised the streets constantly trying to out-do each other with their favourite trick shots.
For the most part, the large crowds had no idea who they were or what the hell they were doing in Spain.
Still, they watched on curiously, and they cheered.
At the famous Placa Reial just off La Rambla, the two Aussies brought lunchtime crowds to a standstill as Spanish waiters stopped serving customers and pulled up a chair for the show.
Everywhere they went, Billy and Dale received a similar reception.
At the National Art Museum that overlooks Barcelona's stunning skyline, school kids from Russia jostled for autographs.
They had no clue about NRL or AFL - but knew these blokes were "famous" because of the cameras following their every move.
Even one of Spain's biggest football stars, David Villa, got in on the act, giving up his time to trade skills.
Villa had just finished training with Barcelona ahead of last week's Champions League showdown with Celtic when he arrived for the afternoon shoot.
In the lead up, the boys were a little nervous about what sort of bloke the Spanish superstar would turn out to be because his minders had demanded the stadium be in lockdown for his appearance, with secure parking for his luxury car.
Villa earns $7 million Euro a year playing for Barcelona, more than our top footy teams spend on entire salary caps.
But when he arrived he was warm and friendly and full of smiles - and while the language barrier made it difficult to communicate, their respective skills spoke all languages.
It was magical to watch.
For an hour or so they laughed and joked and showed off their tricks.
Modestly, Villa said through his interpreter: "It is honestly a very complicated sport, both of them are anything in sport is obviously a great thing."
That's about all he said - but more than his words, his genuine smile suggested he'd enjoyed the experience every bit as much as the two Aussies who chased after him for an autograph when it was over.
Sometimes, sportsmen can get spoiled in situations like this.
You see them carry on like good sorts when they are asked to do "work" for sponsors and you wonder if they really appreciate just how lucky they are.
But on this trip there was none of that, just two good blokes having the time of their lives and being paid to do it.
Check out the full story and more video from Herald Sun here