29 January, 2008

A Non-Smoking Sport?

These days, smoking and football are much less closely related activities. While it was common practice for both the players and fans to have the odd Woodbine at games in the early 20th century, players have been made aware of the damage the tabs do to your lungs and general fitness. Fans have also been affected, as the new smoking laws introduced last summer mean it's impossible to have a crafty fag from the minute you enter the ground until the moment you leave the establishment. Admittedly, many fans refute these rules, but a super sneaky illegal few drags by the bogs isn't quite as satisfying as a leisurely smokey joe. Some players take up this fan's mentality of pursuing their damaging habit, during their playing careers and into their later life. Here are a few of them:

Chelsea assistant coach Henk Ten Cate's liberal Dutch attitudes mean that he doesn't give a monkey's about having the occasional cancer stick. He's creating a right fuggy cloud here, showing the difficult inhale-through-the-mouth-and-exhale-through-the-nose-simultaneously technique. Other Nederlanders who have a penchant for the evil weed include Johan Cruyff, who cut it out of his life before he had a heart bypass in 1991 while managing Barcelona. He got around his craving by famously chain-sucking lollipops on the sidelines instead.

The master of cool and the architect of England's failure to qualify for Euro 2008,Slaven Bilic (not Steve McLaren) has been known to have the odd ciggie. He's allowed, though. He's got an earring and players in a band, so it kind of comes with the territory. If you don't believe me, just ask Slash! Another smokey Croat is Robert Prosinecki, who chewed his way through 40 Lambert and Butler a day during his time at Portsmouth and apparently coughed up a docker's omelette the size of a dinner plate while Harry Redknapp was giving a team talk.

Here's the money shot. It's not clear when this picture was taken, but it quite clearly shows Zizou having a puff and it can be follicular dated to within the last 3 years. If the most skillful player of the last generation could have the odd smoke while he was still playing, isn't there hope for us all? Maybe Materazzi just asked him for a coffin nail during the 2006 World Cup Final to wind him up, rather than reveal his sexual attraction for Zidane's family. Lastly, the French have notoriously nasty smokes, such as the filterless Gitanes and have been known to make people feel a bit queasy........