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Smoking footballers: The stars who puff away from the pitch

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Ashley Cole

Ashley Cole

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov

Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere

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Ashley Cole

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was caught having a cigarette in the showers after Arsenal's defeat to Southampton but who are the other smoking footballers?

WOJCIECH SZCZESNY

The Arsenal goalkeeper has reportedly been fined £20,000 (possibly the most expensive cigarette ever?) after being caught smoking in the showers after his horror show against Southampton recently. Like all stadia, St Marty's has a strict no smoking policy that was breached by the Polish international.

ASHLEY COLE

The former Chelsea and Arsenal full-back was lightening quick down the wings during his Premier League days, but is now kicking his heels on the bench at Italian Serie A club Roma. The ex-England defender was 'papped' while on holiday enjoying a cigarette.

ZINEDINE ZIDANE

Wilshere posted a picture of World Cup winner Zidane smoking after he was at the centre of some negative headlines, and the Frenchman certainly never let the odd cigarette get in the way of a glittering career - although he did get sent off in the 2006 World Cup final for headbutting Marco Materazzi.

CARLO ANCELOTTI

Italian Ancelotti fell foul of England's no-smoking zones when he took over as manager of Chelsea in 2009. Instead had to chew gum as he paced up and down the touchlines, guiding his side to the Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010.

JACK WILSHERE

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere has twice been pictured with a cigarette, once during the early hours outside a London nightclub and then again at a pool party on holiday in Las Vegas. Wilshere has since spoken of his regret, but Gunners' fans still remind him with their light-hearted chant of "Jack Wilshere, he smokes when he wants".

JOHAN CRUYFF

Dutch maestro Cruyff used to openly smoke a packet a day, which continued when he was on the touchline as coach at Barcelona before giving up in 1991 following a heart bypass operation. He said: "Football has given me everything in this life; tobacco almost took it all away."

WAYNE ROONEY

Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney has been pictured smoking while on holiday, but his smoking habits were also mentioned in a British tabloid 'kiss and tell' by a woman who was alleged to have an affair with the England striker.

DIMITAR BERBATOV

There may be plenty of paparazzi snaps of Bulgarian Berbatov, who had spells at Tottenham, Manchester United and Fulham, brandishing a cigarette, but it was, according to the man himself, more often than not just for show. He said: "Sometimes when you see a picture I just pretend to smoke to make me more of a cool guy."

ARSENE WENGER

Like fellow Frenchman Michel Platini, who is now UEFA president, Gunners boss Wenger had in his younger days taken a puff or two. He recalled: "When I was a player, nobody would ever tell you that you should not smoke. We were driving home in coaches where you had to open the windows in winter to see each other. I never smoked a lot and never when I played. But when I became a young coach I had an assistant who smoked and, at 3am in the morning when you have lost a big game, I might have one."

SOCRATES

Brazil midfielder Socrates studied medicine during the early years of his career, but that did not stop the bearded football genius from smoking, or indeed drinking. The captain of the 1982 and 1986 World Cup squads - who once made a brief cameo for West Yorkshire team Garforth Town in 2004 - passed away aged 57 in Sao Paulo after suffering an intestinal infection.

MARIO BALOTELLI

From fireworks in the bathroom to taking on the playground bullies, Italian Balotelli was rarely out of the headlines during his first stay in England at Manchester City, where his 10-a-day habit drew plenty of attention. Then City boss Roberto Mancini quipped: "It is better that he quits, but if he smokes 10 cigarettes a day and scores two goals every game, then that's better."

WARNING! According to the World Health Organisation: "Tobacco kills up to half of its users. Tobacco kills nearly six million people each year. More than five million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030."


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