Understandably, soccer players do the same things as everyday folk do. But, when it comes to being at the top of your soccer game, there are certain things you must adhere to. The most important is taking care of your body.
Earlier this week, Wayne Rooney was spotted poolside smoking a cigarette in a Las Vegas hotel while honeymooning with wife Coleen. To be honest, this could have been a once off, or Rooney could just enjoy the occasional cigarette, but either way we say “Not Cool, Wayne!”
Why is smoking cigarettes bad for athletes?
- One of the main impacts of smoking on athletic performance is a decrease in lung function, leading to a decrease in stamina and performance, as muscles that get inadequate oxygen become fatigued more quickly.
- Smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict and become blocked with plaque, and it can also increase blood pressure. Constricted blood vessels reduce blood flow to the muscles, further limiting the amount of oxygen the muscles receive.
- It can lead to greater chance of injury. When the muscles, heart and brain do not receive enough oxygen, mental and physical acuity can drop. This can cause athletes to make poor decisions.
(Find more information on the effects of smoking on athletes here)
However, Rooney is not the first professional footballer to be caught smoking, as this top ten from the Mirror reveals.
The legendary Brazilian captain and World Cup winner got through two packets a day during his playing career and continued to smoke after he retired. He’s now a medical doctor.
Gazza and Teddy Sheringham
In the run up to Euro ’96 both Gazza and Teddy Sheringham were spotted with tabs on the go. We suspect the reason why they weren’t collared by the FA, or indeed the press, for this misdemeanour was because it occurred on the same night as the infamous ‘dentist’s chair’ incident.
Ex-Crotaian international Robert Prosinečki was famous in his homeland for being a heavy smoker. He was as well known for his ability to chug away on more than 40 ciggies a day as he was for his midfield prowess. When he was joined Portsmouth in 2001 word is that he cut down… to 20 a day. He lasted one season.
The French love a smoke – if it was an Olympic sport they’d take gold in Beijing – which is probably why ex-Spurs head-turner and shampoo hawker David Ginola enjoyed the odd Gitanes during his playing career. Who says smoking isn’t sexy?
Another Frenchie caught with a salmon between his lips was Zinedine Zidane who was snapped puffing away ahead of France’s 2006 World Cup semi-final against Portugal. The thing is Zizou fronted an anti-smoking campaign in 2002. D’oh!
Maradona, one of the most prolific footballers in history, began to smoke after he retired from the game. He spent 10 days in intensive care in 2004 with breathing problems, which may or may not have been down to smoking. But probably was. Maradona recognised in 2005 that Wayne Rooney was a closely cut copy of himself, which may not have been a bad observation.
Johann Cruyff was smoking 20 cigarettes a day, prior to heart surgery in 1991, at a time when he was coaching Barcelona. He was also often seen lighting up in the RFK locker room as he talked to reporters. Nowadays, the legendary Dutchman fronts a campaign by the Health Department of the Catalan autonomous government against smoking. And to think, it only took him a double heart bypass to see the error of his ways.
Stanley Matthews was not a smoker himself, but in 1954 he nonetheless backed an advertisement for Craven A cigarettes, who put his “smooth ball control” down to the “smoothness of Craven A”.
Fabien Barthez was a high-profile smoker during his time in the Prem. After a game for Man United against Southampton in 2003, defeated manager Gordon Strachan was furious when he returned to his non-smoking office and found cigarettes stubbed out in an ashtray. It seemed that the injured Barthez had been in the room after being stretchered off in the second half. The Scottish manager later said that he “must have been taken off for smoker’s cough”.
England’s number one confessed to a 15 year 20-a-day smoking habit earlier this year in his newspaper column. “I spent most of my career puffing away on fags: after training, before matches and even on the team coach,” he wrote. We’re surprised his afro never caught fire.