June 5, 2009 / 4:01 PM / in 8 years

Footballers' lives: Player lives in designer store

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - Soccer players may be known for their extravagant homes, but Italian footballer Andrea Vasa has trumped his peers by living in a somewhat unusual location -- a designer store.

Since late February, 30-year-old Vasa, a defender for Milan’s Brera team, has slept, washed, dressed and chilled out at the flagship store of Belgian menswear designer Dirk Bikkembergs in the city’s exclusive Golden Quad area.

His surroundings include a ground-floor leather sofa and TV area, a bedroom, gym and large bathroom plastered with pages of Italy’s “Gazzetta dello Sport” paper -- all spread out in the store and easily seen by shoppers. A small kitchen is there too.

Huge windows look out onto the busy square outside, and a soccer shoe-shaped entry phone adds the “home” touch. Personal pictures and some books adorn the shelves where clothes from the Bikkembergs main line are exposed.

“Clients go in as if it were my own wardrobe,” Vasa, originally from Sardinia, said while walking around the store.

“Before I used to live in a one-room apartment -- there is just no comparison. It was 40 square meters (431 sq ft), here the bathroom is that size.” Bikkembergs has said the store was designed for and inspired by the lifestyle of “passionate sportsmen.”

The shop, spread over three floors, sells the Bikkembergs menswear collections as well as travel bags, sunglasses and sport shoes. The top two floors double up as Vasa’s home with a spot for his car, a white Porsche.

Shoppers walk around as Vasa sits on the sofa watching TV or playing video games and on some occasions, they have walked in the bedroom while he was still in bed.

“Some people don’t believe it, others are surprised or they don’t expect it,” he said.

“Some have even asked if they can live here too.”

Despite the luxury surroundings, there are some limitations. The shower can be seen, so washing needs to be done carefully.

“Someone who is more extrovert would shower or do it in swimming trunks,” Vasa said, adding that he also hides his shampoo and shower gels, leaving only his toothbrush and toothpaste exposed.

“Some people would actually open the bottles to check whether they were real,” he said.

The store is open from 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) to 19:30 p.m. (1730 GMT), meaning privacy starts in the evening. A guard is on watch during the night.

Vasa, who had modeled for Bikkembergs before moving in, said he was shortlisted for the project after volunteering with others. The location and the car were definitely a draw.

“People at first thought that I was living in a closed box but I am free to do what I want, they let me carry out my usual activities,” he said.

“If I do big parties I do need to let them know, if they are small, it’s like it’s my own home.”

Editing by Paul Casciato

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