Smoking has been a controversial issue in association football for many years. Traditionally, football coaches and players smoked on and off the field, but with the growing anti-smoking trends, restrictions have been imposed. Currently, smoking is prohibited in stadiums around the world, but some individual players and coaches have continued to indulge in cigarettes. From Fabien Barthez to Zizou, here are 20 top-tier footballers who smoke or have smoked.
Lionel Messi is one of the most talented footballers of all time, yet he has been seen smoking from time to time. A photo of him smoking caused a stir on Twitter a few years ago. Ashley Cole was also caught smoking multiple times during his career, which caused problems with his coach Jose Mourinho. Mourinho is known for being completely against smoking for his entire team. Wojciech Szczesny, Arsenal and Poland goalkeeper, recently lost his starting position due to an incident where he was found smoking in the showers after a match.
Fabien Barthez, former Manchester United and France exporter, was famous for being a smoker as well as an eccentric character. Paul Scholes revealed that both Barthez and Laurent Blanc would not start training until they smoked a cigarette every morning. Mario Balotelli is considered the “bad boy” of football and has been seen lighting cigarettes from time to time. Bobby Robson was the first player to assert his image rights and was paid three guineas for his image to be used on cigarette cards. Cole is also the sixth most covered player in England of all time with 107 appearances he made for the English national team during his career. Radja Nainggolan is another player who has shown so much energy every time he has been on the pitch throughout his career, yet he is also a smoker.
Wayne Rooney is one of the best players of his generation and despite being a smoker, it hasn't had an impact on his skills. Smoking is an unhealthy habit for professional athletes, but there are still some players and managers who love to smoke a little here and there. When these players are caught, they are often made to apologize publicly and can sometimes tarnish their reputation. Smoking in association football is still a historical controversy.