Smoking and professional sport go together like lime juice and Bailey’s – very badly. Whilst smoking won’t make your mouth form a revolting viscous paste, à la the ‘Cement Mixer’ beverage, it will seriously inhibit your ability to maximise aerobic fitness, or will it?
Arsene Wenger, a man who was partial to the occasional Gauloise, has said he didn’t think the odd cigarette made a difference; “Does the occasional cigarette affect performance? No. If you make a good pass on the football pitch that is what people want to see. I’m sure there are some top sportsmen who smoke, but it is not a good example.”
Even after those fairly hypocritical words of wisdom, there are a few guys out there who persevere, however infrequently, with the naughty little habit. Who are they?
The Arsenal player has been caught out a few times; “I am young and I will learn from it,” he said. “I have kids myself and I don’t want them growing up to think their dad smokes and it is okay for a footballer to smoke, because it’s not. It is unacceptable and I will accept the consequences and I will move on.”
The striker is reported to enjoy a dart more frequently than you would believe. Joey Barton, record holder for the fewest international caps, believes smoking has cost Wayne; “Why does Ronaldo achieve what he achieves and Rooney doesn’t? When you see Wayne Rooney smoking cigarettes, does he live his life correctly?”
The West Ham manager used to get through two packs a day. Croatian attitudes towards smoking are far more relaxed, Slaven has been forced to cut back as he can’t smoke in the dugout.
The Sun suggested nicknaming him ‘Fag-Ashley’ which was hideously unfunny. You could hardly accuse Cole of letting his nicotine habit affect his ability.
In a weird sequence of events Zidane was pictured smoking in 1998. This was apparently a ‘one off’ – agent hurriedly rushes to maintain image – and in 2002 the player appeared in an anti-smoking campaign.
The player was caught smoking as he left a nightclub back in 2008. Wenger was not happy with his captain and publicly chastised him: “He has a responsibility as captain of Arsenal football club and that cannot be accepted. It is a public job with a public responsibility and therefore it is for everybody exactly the same.”
Ozil was caught buying a shisha pipe just two days after Jack Wilshere was caught smoking. He made things very awkward for Wenger who was trying to downplay the smoking habits of several Gunners players.