Smoking and professional sport go together like lime juice and Baileys – 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.”
When you look at the fact Zinedine Zidane was/is a smoker, then Le Professeur is correct; the odd drag of a cigarette clearly doesn’t effect performance. However, you then realise Jack Wilshere and Mario Balotelli smoke, two players who are stealing a living.
You just know in the Arsenal midfielder’s head that he believes he looks as suave and renegade as Dimitar Berbatov when smoking a roll-up from his 50g bag of Amber Leaf that Derek down the local sold him, after somehow ‘acquiring’ 100 packets.
Although not in the video, it’s pretty common knowledge that Manchester United’s all-time leading goalscorer, Wayne Rooney, enjoys a cigarette – no surprise given the former Everton teenager fits the stereotype for an Englishman down the pub. But you have to wonder if England’s captain lived a healthier lifestyle, whether his career at the top level would’ve lasted longer/made it into Gary Neville’s current Manchester United best XI, below.