Do you know there are footballers who smoke? When we think of footballers, we often picture athletes with strict diets and healthy lifestyles. But did you know that some football players don’t conform to this stereotype?
10 Footballers Who Smoke
In this blog, we’re going to introduce you to ten famous footballers who are known to enjoy a smoke now and then. So, if you thought all footballers were like Cristiano Ronaldo, think again!
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1. Radja Nainggolan
Nainggolan is the type of person who doesn’t care about others’ opinions of him, not in the slightest. He smokes, and he has never had any intention of hiding it. During his time at AS Roma, he would often excuse himself from his teammates in the dressing room to indulge in a smoke with the assistant manager. No, it wasn’t Sarri. At this point, we must respect the distinction.
One could argue that Nainggolan’s smoking habits weren’t very healthy. However, during his prime, he consistently delivered robust and outstanding performances on the field.
When questioned about his smoking habits, here’s what the Belgian had to say:
“I know I should set a good example. I have kids… But I’m just a footballer. I do my job. Everyone knows that I smoke, and I can’t hide it, but I’m not ashamed.”
Now, if you’re under the impression that Nainggolan’s smoking makes him eccentric, the next footballer on this list will show you that judging people by their habits isn’t a very good idea.
2. Marco Verratti
Verratti stands out as one of the most astute defensive midfielders in the world. Despite his fearlessness in making tough tackles, his demeanor differs notably from Nainggolan’s. However, the Italian is also known for his smoking habit.
Reports suggest that just a week before his stellar performance at Old Trafford in 2019, the Italian midfield maestro spent the night drinking and smoking during Neymar’s birthday celebrations.
Despite his indulgences, he emerged from the game against Manchester United with the highest number of touches, best passing accuracy, and most fouls won. Such extraordinary performances left Julien Laurens astonished at how Verratti consistently excels on the field while maintaining such a lifestyle.
3. Mario Balotelli
Balotelli, did he ever appear as someone who cared the least bit about what others thought of him? This guy loves to smoke, and he’s completely unapologetic about it.
The English media gave him a hard time when he was caught on camera smoking during his less successful stint at Liverpool, but that didn’t deter him.
Even when he was fined for smoking on a train, he remained unyielding in his habit.
The only period where his smoking seemed curbed was during his time at AC Milan. The club signed him from Liverpool under very strict conditions, including a ban on smoking and limitations on drinking.
That period seemingly restricted his smoking, as he wasn’t caught smoking during his tenure at Milan. However, once he left the club, he reverted to his habits. Balotelli was spotted smoking just moments before his debut with Brescia, and it was no ordinary game—it was against Juventus. Once again, Super Mario demonstrated his carefree attitude towards the rules.
4. Johan Cruyff
Cruyff achieved an astounding array of accomplishments as both a player and a coach. He secured three Ballon d’Or awards, four European Cups, 13 league titles, and 13 domestic cups. Although he came close to winning the World Cup, losing in the ’74 final, he was still recognized as the tournament’s player of the tournament.
But beyond these achievements, Cruyff left an enduring legacy at both Ajax and Barcelona, making him one of the most exceptional players and managers in the history of the sport. And, notably, he was an avid smoker.
If there’s a need for proof that smoking cigarettes doesn’t necessarily hinder greatness or limit potential in football, Johan Cruyff stands as a prime example. He maintained his exceptional success despite his smoking habit.
And when we say he smoked a lot, we mean a lot. Cruyff was known to consume 20 cigarettes a day, and at one point, that number reportedly increased to 40 a day after he became a manager. Yes, a staggering 40 cigarettes every day.
It’s important to note, however, that this heavy smoking is not something to endorse. It’s undoubtedly harmful. In Cruyff’s case, it eventually impacted his health.
In 1991, the legendary Dutchman underwent a heart bypass operation. It was believed that this health issue arose during the period when he had doubled his daily cigarette consumption.
5. Fabien Barthez
If you’re relatively young, Fabien Barthez might not ring a bell, as he retired in 2007. However, Barthez remains an absolute legend. The French goalkeeper played a pivotal role in helping France reach the World Cup final in 2006.
Certainly, he indulges in smoking. Why else would he be on this list? His smoking habits came into focus when he made his move to England in 2000.
Upon joining Manchester United at the turn of the century, the media was eager to highlight the goalkeeper’s smoking habit. However, his coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, downplayed its significance in an interview.
The esteemed manager expressed that he was well aware of Barthez’s smoking habit even before the player joined the club, and yet, Ferguson proceeded to sign him regardless. According to Fergie, smoking cigarettes was a far lesser concern than his players consuming alcohol.
6. Wayne Rooney
Throughout his playing career, Wayne Rooney faced numerous controversies, landing in hot water with English fans for a variety of reasons. There were scandals involving infidelity, engaging with prostitutes, public urination, excessive partying, drinking, and even incidents of drink driving—a multitude of contentious issues.
However, amid these notorious incidents, Rooney’s smoking habit also contributed to the disapproval from England’s fan base. Fans and the media were notably critical of one of their revered heroes being a smoker, adding to the scrutiny and heat he endured due to his indulgence in cigarette smoking.
7. Jack Wilshere
Wilshere openly admitted in an interview that during his time at Arsenal, the English media once caught him with a cigarette, took a picture, and prominently featured it in newspapers. Surprisingly, it didn’t bother him much. His primary concern was how his manager, Arsene Wenger, would react.
The following day, he found solace in a lighthearted response from Wenger, who amusingly reassured him, saying, “Don’t worry, when I have a drink, I like a cigarette as well.”
Despite this, Wilshere was once again pictured smoking, prompting another round of criticism from the media. This time, he felt compelled to offer an apology for his actions.
By the way, isn’t it commendable how Wenger handled the situation? His calm and understanding approach were evident in addressing Wilshere’s smoking habit.
8. Wojciech Szczęsny
Following a Premier League defeat against Southampton in 2015, the Polish goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczęsny, was caught smoking in the shower. This incident was reported to the coach, resulting in a fine being imposed.
However, the repercussions didn’t end there. Szczęsny found himself dropped from the first team. Regrettably, that defeat against Southampton marked his final Premier League appearance as an Arsenal player.
The current Juventus goalkeeper was candid about his punishment, acknowledging that it wasn’t solely because he smoked but because he violated the coach’s rule by smoking in the dressing room, previously declared a no-smoking zone.
Wenger was aware of Szczęsny’s smoking habit, but it had never been a significant issue until the player violated the coach’s directive. It wasn’t Wenger’s intention to permanently sideline him from the first team. However, David Ospina, his replacement, performed well during Szczęsny’s absence, making it challenging for him to reclaim his position in the team.
This situation mirrors the current scenario with Ramsdale and Raya, albeit without the smoking aspect.
9. Ashley Cole
Ashley Cole, a successful footballer, was known to enjoy smoking, despite earning recognition as one of the best in his position. Regarded as one of the greatest left-backs in history, he was also notably labeled a chainsmoker by his former teammate, Emile Heskey.
Reports suggest that his smoking habit played a role in his departure from Chelsea in 2014. The club’s coach at the time, Jose Mourinho, strongly disapproved of smoking and was unable to persuade Cole to give up the habit. This disagreement created a rift in their relationship, coupled with a few other factors, eventually leading to the departure of the legendary player from the club at the age of 33.
10. Gianluigi Buffon
Concluding our list is another legendary figure in the game, Gianluigi Buffon, who has been captured smoking on a couple of occasions. After Buffon and his Juventus teammates secured a spot in another Champions League final in 2017, he was pictured relaxing in his car with friends, indulging in a cigarette.
This serves as a reminder that judging people solely based on their habits isn’t always a fair assessment. As long as those habits don’t harm others, it’s essential to allow individuals to make their own personal choices.
Many of the players featured in this list are esteemed figures in football, and they happen to enjoy smoking. But does that diminish their prowess on the field? Not at all. Moreover, there are even more greats who aren’t on this list but also smoke, such as Zidane, Ozil, Maradona, and several others.
However, it’s vital to exercise caution in the habits one adopts. Smoking, as commonly acknowledged, poses serious health risks, and it’s often said that smokers are prone to a shorter life expectancy. So, it’s important to be mindful and prioritize your well-being. Stay cautious and stay safe.