The Mirror reveals top ten smoking football players

10. Socrates

The legendary Brazilian captain and World Cup winner got through two packets of cigarettes a day during his playing career and continued to smoke after he retired. He’s now a medical doctor.

Football player Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane in action during football match game

9. 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.

8. Robert Prosinečki

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.

7. David Ginola

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?

6. Zinedine Zidane

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!

5. Maradona

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.

4. Johann Cruyff

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.

3. Stanley Matthews

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”.

2. Fabien Barthez

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”.

1. David James

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.

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