Thu 17 November 2022 | 20:29

Footballers Who Smoke or Used to Smoke

Did you ever think that even footballers may smoke? The general thought is that they don’t, and it’s almost true, however, there are still footballers who smoke or used to smoke during their careers. In this post we are going to let you know about Footballers Who Smoke or Used to Smoke.

We normally exclude famous sports figures from the category of smokers because they are generally healthy.  But Footballers also smoke.

Who could they be? You might think of regular players who are not in the spotlight, but did you know that

some soccer stars smoke


Who are these smoking soccer stars? Wayne Rooney and Zinedine Zidane are two examples, however neither is a heavy smoker and has only been caught smoking on a few occasions.

The List of Smoking footballers

Here comes a list of smoking footballers. In fact, some of these footballers have quitted smoking or just have been caught smoking here or there, however, some of them are or were chronic or heavy smokers and yet some of them died of their smoking habit.

Osvaldo Ardilles

One of the oldest and the first Argentinian footballer on the list of footballers who smoke, Osvaldo Ardilles is a 70-year-old retired Argentinian footballer who served ten clubs during his career with the most famous of them being 

Tottenham Hotspur

 and also managed more than 10 teams after his retirement in 1991.

They say in 1978 when Ardilles won the World Cup with Argentinian national team he was a prolific smoker and smoked 40 cigarettes a day - he really deserves to be on the list of

famous footballers who smoke cigarettes

! We don’t know how that might be possible, but that’s what they say; a professional footballer who is a prolific smoker and also wins the World Cup.

Johan Cruyff

Can you even believe that the legendary footballer who’s as big as legends like Pele and Diego Maradona and maybe even bigger than them was among the footballers who used to smoke? Like Ardilles he was also a prolific smoker.

They say in some part of his life he smoked 20 cigarettes a day that later he increased it to 40 a day; actually between 1988 and 1996 that he managed the La Liga giants, 



It might be interesting for you to know that Cruyff was a smoker since his boyhood. It is really surprising how a legendary footballer was also be a chronic smoker and that he had started smoking from his boyhood. Cryuff underwent a heart bypass operation once in 1991 - actually in between the time he increased the number of cigarettes he smoked a day from 20 to 40.

Later on, in October 2015, Cryuff was diagnosed with lung cancer; the cancer he fought with for a year before he died in February 2016. They say his cancer had spread to his brain one week before his death making him unable to speak and move the left part of his body.

The legendary Dutch footballer finally died on March 24, 2016, in a clinic in Barcelona. Smoker or not, in some belief, he is

the greatest footballer ever in the history of football

along with legends like Maradona and Pele.

Paul Gascoigne

If there were a list of addicted footballers, Paul Gascoigne would surely top that list. What can be inferred from his own books, Gazza: My Story, Being Gazza: Tackling My Demons, My World, Football and Me, is that Gascoigne has an addictive personality which is really so.

He’s not only among the smoking footballers - in fact a chain smoker he is, but also developed addiction to alcohol, cocaine, gambling, high-caffeine energy drinks, and junk food in some part of his life.

Looks like a troublesome footballer to us. Our proof? He was arrested a number of times due to crimes such as drunk driving. Gascoigne is by now 53 years old. His career as a footballer lasted from 1985 to 2004 during which he served top clubs from top-tier leagues in Europe such as Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio, Rangers, and



Preben Elkjaer

And here comes a retired 

smoking soccer player

 from Denmark who smoked in-between the halves and before penalty shootouts: Preben Elkjaer. Although there is no proof to this, they say he even smoked moments before he took a penalty shootout and then just threw away his cigarette before he actually took the penalty.

Elkjaer was and they say is a heavy smoker. He was once caught smoking behind the team bus by the Denmark national team’s coach at the time, Sepp Piontek. And smoking was not the only thing Elkjaer liked and did; he also liked night clubs, whisky and girls, and they say even he once seemed to watch porn during a team meeting of course in a way that his manager did not notice. Despite all this and specifically being a chain smoker, Elkjaer is still considered as one of the greatest Danish forwards ever.


His real name is Socrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira and he’s Brazilian. Other than a footballer, Socrates was also a doctor and politician. His being a doctor makes it a little hard to accept that he was also a smoker, but that’s true; he was indeed a smoker and a heavy one plus that he was also a heavy drinker who had a bad reputation of not being hardworking and disciplined in his personal life. Concerning this, he once said: “I am an anti-athlete. I cannot deny myself certain lapses from the strict regime of a sportsman. You have to take me as I am.”

Despite being a heavy smoker, Socrates’ death was at least apparently not due to smoking. He was once admitted to the intensive care unit of the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazin, on August 19, 2011 due to gastrointestinal bleeding but was discharged nine days later.

The following month, however, he was again in hospital due to a liver ailment, and again on December 1, 2011, he was in hospital, this time, due to food poisoning that developed to a septic shock and took his life three days later on December 4, 2011. Maybe all these were because he was a heavy drinker?

David James

However, James later quitted his habit of smoking; actually at the age of 30 and even in 2008 became the front man of an anti-smoking campaign. In an interview with Guardian, James regretted his habit of smoking saying that even thinking about the fact that he smoked after training, before matches and even on the team’s coach made him feel ill. Some say the reason he never got to the ball when trying to cut off a cross was his smoking habit. They actually mean he came short of breath. Is that so?

Mario Balotelli

The black Italian footballer, Mario Balotelli, is also on the list of 

footballers who smoke

. He’s by now 32 years old and is currently playing for Swiss Super League club Sion, but in 2019-20 season he played for the Serie B club, 


. As far as we know Balotelli has been a smoker since joining Manchester City, and maybe before that we don’t know.

However, he is not a heavy smoker as some of the smoking footballers already mentioned. They say he smokes 3 to 5 cigarettes a day which is almost nothing compared to those footballers who smoked 20 to 40 a day. The problem with Balotelli is that he has not yet quitted or hasn’t made an attempt to do so. As a result, he’s been caught smoking here or there and criticized for that.

Wesley Sneijder

A 36-year-old retired Dutch footballer who has played for top-tier clubs such as Inter Milan, 

Real Madrid

, and Ajax during his career as an attacking midfielder, Wesley Sneijder is also among the footballers who smoke. However, unlike some other footballers who smoked even on pitch or in the changing room, Sneijder kept it out of his professional career.

However, some believe the reason why Sneijder declined from a top footballer in 2010 playing for Inter to a Galatasaray player in 2013 and a player of the Emirati club, Al Gharafa, in 2018 was his smoking habits.

Dimitar Berbatov

This retired Bulgarian footballer who has served top-tier European clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, 

Bayer Leverkusen

, and Monaco during his career says he’s not a smoker, although the photo below shows him with a cigarette on his lips.

He says one photo is not enough to prove that he’s a smoker and maybe he’s right. About the above photo he once said: “I pretended to smoke because I looked cool holding a cigarette, but that’s it, so I don’t know why people think I smoke just from one picture.”

David Ginola

The first French footballer on the list of 

footballers who smoke

, David Ginola is a 53-year-old retired footballer who has served top-tier clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, PSG, and Aston Villa during his career. They say Ginola started smoking cigarettes in 1990s when he played for the English club, 

Newcastle United

; he actually enjoyed a cigarette or two after the matches.

Ginola never quitted his smoking habits, on the contrary, he smoked more after his retirement, and finally suffered a heart attack in 2017 when he was playing in a charity match. He actually died for some time on the pitch; he swallowed his tongue and had no pulse for 8 minutes. Ginola himself once said besides smoking cigarettes he also didn’t have a healthy diet after retirement. Maybe that’s what got him the heart attack?

Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger is not indeed among the footballers who smoke but among the managers who have smoked, in fact, to deal with the stress as once he himself said. He’s been filmed a few times smoking cigarettes on the subs bench, as you see in the photo below, however, he is neither a chain nor a heavy smoker and in fact is against smoking especially when it comes to players whom he manages.

The interesting fact about the 73-year-old French manager who currently is the manager of the Premier League club,


, is that he was brought up in the fog of smoke and even sold cigarettes as a youngster. “I grew up in a pub you did not see from here to the window because of the smoke and I spent my youth selling cigarettes,” he said once to Guardian.

Stan Collymore

Collymore was also accused of taking drugs such as cocaine and marijuana as claimed once by the News of the World, although that was never confirmed. The picture above shows him puffing at a cigarette maybe to calm himself after caught up and teargassed in fan clashes in Euro 2016 in France.

Zinedine Zidane

Not a heavy smoker and not a chain one, Zinedine Zidane was even part of an anti-smoking campaign in 2002, however, and despite this, he was seen smoking cigarettes - maybe just casually - before the 2006 World Cup semi final against Portugal.

If Zidane has smoked, that hasn’t for sure barred his way to success and becoming one of the football legends and in fact one of the best ones along with legends like Michel Platini. There are no other photos or proofs except for the above photo that prove Zidane was more than a casual smoker.

Wayne Rooney

Although Wayne Rooney is on the list of footballers who smoke, he’s just like Zinedine Zidane not a heavy smoker or a chain one. They say Rooney smoked in his early 20s, when he had just joined 

Manchester United

, but do you think if he was a heavy smoker, could he be Manchester United and England record goal scorer? Rarely or not at all.

However, the former Manchester City player and the current

Fleetwood Town

manager, Joey Barton, thinks differently. In his opinion, Wayne Rooney could be as successful as Cristiano Ronaldo but the lack of discipline in his life and smoking cigarettes have prevented him from that.

“Rooney could have been world class but look at his mentality compared to Cristiano Ronaldo. Polar opposites. Why does Ronaldo achieve what he achieves and Rooney doesn't? When you see Wayne Rooney smoking cigarettes, does he live his life correctly?” he said once to Independent.

Gianluigi Buffon

And here comes the second goalkeeper on the list of 

footballers who smoke

 and also one of the legendary Italian goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon. Nobody has ever said Buffon is a heavy or chain smoker, but he’s been caught here or there enjoying cigarettes.

One of such occasions as pictured above is on the beach and the other when Juventus won over Monaco in the semi final of 2017 UEFA Champions League. A casual smoker, true, but did you know that the Juventus star even took drugs once when he was a youngster?

This is what he admitted in an interview saying “I did it once. If anything, I remember the cloud of smoke that surrounded the Casertana fans, a fog caused not by smoke, but by 200 pipes smoked all together,” when he was asked if he took drugs when he was a member of Ultra gang.

Fabien Barthez

The interesting fact about Barthez is that he was even allowed by his then-manager, Alex Fergusion, to smoke minutes before the start of a match. In fact, it was much more acceptable for Ferguson - and also in English football - that a player smoked cigarettes rather than being alcoholic.

“I know Fabien smokes. I was even aware of that before he joined us. He must think I don't know about it, but he is mistaken … In England, it's a rare thing to see a player smoking but, all in all, I prefer that to an alcoholic. The relationship with alcohol is a real problem in English football and, in the short term, it's much more harmful to a sportsman,” said Ferguson once to Guardian in an interview.

Slaven Bilic

The former West Ham and 


 defender and Croatia international who currently manages the Premier League club, West Bromwich Albion, is the first and only Croatian footballer on the list of footballers who smoke - better said former footballers who smoked.

However, there are no proofs at hand to prove that he was a heavy or chain smoker. As a footballer he was seen smoking at the back of the team bus, as confirmed by his former West ham teammate, John Moncur, and as a manager, he was warned by TFF (Turkish Football Federation) not to smoke inside the Stadium.

It actually dates back to when he was the manager of the Turkish team, Besiktas - actually between 2013 and 2015, that he smoked inside the stadium and was warned if he repeated that, he would be fined.

Jeremy Mathieu

One of the footballers who smoke and is not ashamed of what he does! Jeremy Mathieu plays for Regional 2 club Luynes Sports who has played for La Liga giants, 


, during his career - actually between 2013 and 2017 - and did not stop his smoking despite them not being happy about it.

“I’m someone who always tells the truth, I have no problem with that. I’m not the first player to smoke and I won’t be the last but when the fans watch me on the pitch they are happy with me. That’s what is important to me. People can think what they think, I’m not bothered. What matters is how I play on the pitch and how I represent my club and nobody can complain about that,” he said in an interview.

Ashley Cole

Another chain smoker among the 

footballers who smoke

, Ashley Cole is a recently retired English footballer who has played for top-tier clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and 

AS Roma

 during his career. Considered as one of the best defenders of his own time, Ashley Cole was actually a left back who was, in many beliefs, also part of his own time’s Golden Generation along with stars like Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, and Michael Owen - We’d better call him then a soccer star who smoke, hadn’t we?

Cole is also the England’s sixth most capped player of all time with 107 appearances that he made for the English national team during his career. And all these honors he achieved despite being a chain smoker. Just imagine how better he could be, if he didn’t smoke.

Diego Maradona

Surely not among the footballers who smoke or smoked during their careers - there is no evidence actually, Diego Maradona is quite notorious for smoking inside a smoking-banned stadium, although he said later he had not been aware that the stadium was smoking-free. "I honestly did not know that no one can smoke in the stadiums. I apologise to everyone and the organization,” he said on his Instagram.

This actually happened in 2018 World Cup when smoking in stadiums was banned for the first time. Maradona, however, did not know about the new regulations, or maybe he knew? Remember his Hand of God Goal? The goal that he scored with his hand and was thought at the time to have been scored by his head; Didn’t he know that touching the ball with his hand was a foul? However, he says he “honestly” did not know, maybe he’s right. You justify him!

The List of Famous Footballers Who Smoke Cigarettes Does Not End Here

Surely there are still other footballers than the ones mentioned above who smoke or used to smoke cigarettes, however, it is also out of our readers’ patience to continue the list in the above fashion, so we just suffice to name them in the list below:

  • Carlo Ancelotti, Ntl: Italian, Age: 63, Clubs: AC Milan and AS Roma

  • Gianluca Vialli, Ntl: Italian, Age: 58, Clubs: Sampdoria, Juventus, Chelsea

  • Wayne Bridge, Ntl: English, Age: 42, Clubs: Southampton, Chelsea, Manchester United

  • Jack Wilshere, Ntl: English, Age: 30, Clubs: Arsenal, West Ham United, Bournemouth

  • Wojciech Szczesny, Ntl: Polish, Age: 32, Clubs: Arsenal, Juventus

  • Marouane Fellaini, Ntl: Belgian, Age: 34, Clubs: Everton, Manchester United, Shandong Taishan

  • Gerard Pique, Ntl: Spanish, Age: 35, Clubs: Manchester United, Barcelona

  • Mesut Özil, Ntl: German, Age: 34, Clubs: Werder Bremen, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Fenerbahçe, İstanbul Başakşehir

  • Didier Drogba, Ntl: Ivorian, Age: 44, Clubs: Chelsea, Marseille


source: SportMob

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