These days, footballers are finely tuned athletes whose rigorous training schedule means they’re the best at what they do.
So they wouldn’t dream of tarnishing that all by smoking…would they?
Actually, some players and managers, including those who ply their trade in the Premier League and for Champions League clubs, have been known to indulge in a sneaky cigarette or 10.
Some have been snapped having a cheeky puff on a night out, while others have spoken openly about their nicotine addiction and 15-a-day habit, despite it being a clear detriment to their career and health.
Long past are the days of Ferenc Puskas where it was socially acceptable and the norm for everyone to smoke.
So now we look at the modern era, highlighting 20 top footballers who smoke or have smoked…
Around 2010, Dutch midfielder
Wesley Sneijder was among the most sought after players on the planet. Away from the pitch, the former Ajax, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Galatasaray man also enjoyed a cigarette. (Image: Supplied) 1 of 20 Dimitar Berbatov
Former Tottenham and Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov insists he’s smoked in his life, claiming this image doesn’t tell the full story. The Bulgarian told Four Four Two:
“I pretended to smoke because I looked cool holding a cigarette, but that’s it, so I don’t know why people think I smoke just from one picture.” (Image: Ben Melvin/REX/Shutterstock) 2 of 20 David Ginola
Frenchman David Ginola enjoyed a post-match cigarette while playing for Newcastle in the 90s. After hanging up his boots, he started smoking more and in 2017 he suffered a massive heart attack while playing in a charity match. Doctors performed a quadruple heart bypass to save his life and later told him to cut out the tabs.
(Image: REX/Shutterstock) 3 of 20 Arsene Wenger
Towards the end of his 22-year spell as Arsenal, Arsene Wenger had to deny there was a smoking problem in his squad after more than one player was snapped puffing away. The Frenchman was fiercely anti-smoking, but admitted he used to smoke in the dugout early in his managerial career to help cope with the stress.
(Image: Supplied) 4 of 20 Stan Collymore
Ex-Liverpool, Aston Villa and England striker Stan Collymore was snapped having a cigarette, presumably to calm his nerves, after he was teargassed when he got caught up in clashes between fans at Euro 2016 in France.
(Image: DAILY MIRROR) 5 of 20 Slaven Bilic
According to Slaven Bilic’s old West Ham team-mate John Moncur, the Croatian smoked on the back of the bus. While as manager of Besiktas, he was given a warning by the Turkish Football Federation for smoking inside the stadium.
(Image: Getty Images) 6 of 20 Jeremy Mathieu
French defender Jeremy Mathieu has enjoyed a long and successful career playing for clubs including Valencia, Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon. He makes no apologies for being a smoker. He said: "I’m not the first player to smoke and I won’t be the last but when the fans watch me on the pitch they are happy with me
." (Image: GETTY) 7 of 20 Paul Gascoigne
According to Gazza, he only took up smoking in the latter stages of his playing career. Since he called it a day, the former Newcastle, Tottenham and Rangers playmaker has been spotted with a tab or a cigar in his mouth many a time.
(Image: Internet Unknown) 8 of 20 Carlo Ancelotti
‘Don’ Carlo Ancelotti has been pictured smoking on countless occasions. The former AC Milan and Italy midfielder, who has managed clubs including Real Madrid, Chelsea, Napoli, Bayern Munich, and Everton told how he took up the habit when facing a spell on the sidelines while playing for Roma as a 25-year-old.
(Image: AFP via Getty Images) 9 of 20 Gianluca Vialli
Former Italy striker Gianluca Vialli was pretty open about his smoking habit, claiming it was preferable to being a big boozer. He was often snapped smoking after being substituted and carried on chonging while managing Chelsea.
(Image: Reuters) 10 of 20 Ashley Cole
At one point he was one of the best left-backs in the game, but even in his pomp former Arsenal, Chelsea and LA Galaxy man Ashley Cole was snapped sucking on a ciggie , usually during the summer break.
(Image: Chelsea FC via Getty Images) 11 of 20 Wayne Bridge
Another England left-back, Wayne Bridge has also been known to partake in a sneaky smoke. The ex-Southampton, Chelsea and Manchester City defender has been pictured smoking several times.
12 of 20 Wayne Rooney
While still in his early 20s, Manchester United and England’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney was caught on camera smoking on nights out and on holiday.
(Image: GETTY) 13 of 20 Zinedine Zidane
Ballon d’Or winner Zinedine Zidane has been pictured smoking a cigarette. We’ve no idea how many the former Real Madrid and Juventus legend smoked, but it certainly didn’t get in the way of him becoming the best player in the world at one point.
(Image: Europa Press via Getty Images) 14 of 20 Fabien Barthez
Sir Alex Ferguson reportedly gave up trying to get French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez to quit smoking, even allowing him to puff away on the eve of games.
(Image: DX) 15 of 20 Mario Balotelli
Madcap striker Mario Balotelli makes no secret of his smoking habit, often swanning around with a cigarette in his mouth. The Italy international smoked while playing for Man City and Liverpool in the Premier League
(Image: Getty Images) 16 of 20 Jack Wilshere
Jack Wilshere was caught smoking twice in nine months, in 2013 and 2014. Then at Arsenal, the midfielder said: "Of course I regret it," he said. "It’s unacceptable and I will accept the consequences and move on."
(Image: AFP via Getty Images) 17 of 20 Gianluigi Buffon
The legendary Italian goalkeeper’s smoking habit hasn’t stopped him having a long career. The Juventus stopper, who’s been snapped smoking more than once, is still going strong at 42.
(Image: X02443) 18 of 20 Wojciech Szczesny
Former Arsenal goalkeeper
Wojciech Szczesny was fined £20,000 by Arsene Wenger for smoking in the dressing room. He told the Independent: “I never got caught. I admitted to it when I was asked if it was me in London but the second one was bulls***. At Arsenal I did it and held my hands up but never at Roma.” (Image: GETTY) 19 of 20 Maurizio Sarri
Lazio boss Maurizio Sarri is often found with a ciggy in his mouth but once lamented that it helped improve a back injury. Even still, the former Chelsea admits that he probably needs to cut back on the habit. "I smoke 60 a day, which is probably a few too many,” he claimed.
(Image: GETTY) 20 of 20 Premier League Smoking Wayne Rooney Carlo Ancelotti Paul Gascoigne Arsene Wenger
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