Imagine Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt and Mathis Bolly lining up for a sprint on a 40-metre track. Who do you think would win? The FIFA Ballon d’Or winner, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ adidas Golden Ball winner, the reigning 100m and 200m world champion sprinter or the Ivorian playing in Germany’s second tier? The answer may surprise you.
According to the recently released EA SPORTS™ FIFA 16, 24-year-old Bolly is the joint-fastest player on the planet - and not for the first time. “I’m obviously very proud. FIFA is one of the biggest games in the world, so it’s cool and it’s a great honour,” he tells FIFA.com.
In this year’s edition of the game, the Fortuna Dusseldorf man shares first place with England and Arsenal forward Theo Walcott, a compromise he is happy to make. Indeed, it should not be forgotten that he plies his trade in Germany’s second Bundesliga, so to match up to players at some of the world’s biggest clubs is a tremendous achievement. “Whether I’m first or second, it doesn’t matter,” he says modestly.
Need for speedMost readers will know that, of the names mentioned at the beginning of this article, one is not a footballer. While Ronaldo, Messi and Bolly kick a ball around a pitch, Jamaican Bolt has made his name as a professional sprinter, dominating the sport for the last seven years and winning countless medals and prizes - at 100m and 200m level. Over a shorter distance, however, Bolly may cross the line first.
“Sprinting is a totally different type of sport. Over 100 metres I’d lose every time, but over 40 metres I might have a chance,” he says with a smile. “I have a lot of respect for sprinters. I’m fast for a footballer, but to become a professional sprinter, there are a few things I’m lacking. But I trust in my speed and up until now, I’ve never played with anyone who’s managed to outrun me.”
The origin of the Oslo-born attacker’s sensational pace lies in his childhood. Bolly remembers how his father coached the Norwegian sprint team and often took the young boy along with him, suggesting the seeds of his speed were sewn then. “You could say that inspired me. I did a lot of sprint training then, but I was always fast to be honest - it’s in my genes. When I was younger, I did extra training for it, although I don’t anymore.”
Due to his gruelling schedule as a footballer, resuming the extra sprint training he did in his younger years would be impossible. Not only that, it would leave him with far less time to enjoy a session of FIFA with friends, tearing it up as Real Madrid. And in case you were wondering, Bolly has played as himself and is satisfied with how he is represented, even if he might “disagree slightly with how good I am in other areas". "I think I’m better technically than FIFA 16 says I am, for example,” he explained.
While he can deal with not being as good as he might be on the game, there is another FIFA-related ‘problem’ that Bolly finds harder to manage. “I’m a bad loser at FIFA,” he admits. “If I lose, I’m in a bad mood. It ruins my entire day. I had a phase where I lost a lot of matches in a row and ended up losing a good friend. I was just so angry and had to take a break from it,” he said, grinning. “I hate losing against friends and then having to sit next to them while they celebrate. It’s horrible!”
Côte d’Ivoire over Norway
Losing out on the pitch makes him even more unhappy, and Bolly has had to endure his fair share of on-field disappointment this season. Fortuna began the season with ambitions of promotion to the Bundesliga, but six defeats in ten have seen the traditional Rhineland powerhouse slip into the relegation play-off spot, while Bolly himself has been hampered by a number of injuries.
After a successful tooth operation, however, he is now hoping to hit the ground running once again, both to bring Dusseldorf back on track and play his way back into contention for the Côte d’Ivoire national team. Bolly’s mother is Norwegian, meaning he could have played for Norway, but despite appearing in a handful of matches for the Scandinavians at U-17 level, he eventually chose to represent the country of his father’s birth, a decision he has never regretted.
He has gone on to make five senior appearances for the Elephants and was named in the squad that travelled to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™. He even came off the bench in his side’s second group game against Colombia, his last international action to date.
While impressing for Dusseldorf is his current ambition, Bolly eventually hopes to sign for a top-flight challenger, ideally in Germany. It remains a dream at present, but until it happens, he can at least savour the simulated luxury of leaving the likes of Ronaldo and Messi trailing in his wake.