Smoking in football: Former Liverpool physio gives Sportsmail his insights

Insight into smoking in football: Why it remains the great taboo

Smoking is still the great taboo among elite footballers in this country. It really is frowned upon.

I’ve known players who like the occasional cigarette. There were one or two at Liverpool but I think it was more about trying to look cool on a night out than a habit. I’ve seen the odd cigar, too.

Enlarge Billy Bremner smokes John Osborne

Match of the day: Billy Bremner lights up (left) and West Brom’s John
Osborne smokes on the pitch (right)

But I’ve never known an international footballer smoke five or six cigarettes a day. If they did, they kept it hidden from the coaching staff. I’d say it’s very rare for a Premier League footballer.

If you smoke five or six cigarettes a day between the ages of 15 and 25 then, beyond this, there will be a definite change to the way your lungs and bloodstream work.

Having a smoke: Mario Balotelli and friend puff away (above) and Gianluca Vialli enjoys a cigarette (below)

Having a smoke: Mario Balotelli and friend puff away (above) and Gianluca Vialli enjoys a cigarette (below)

Gianluca Vialli smokes

For a box-to-box midfielder this will have quite an impact on your game. It might not be as noticeable if you’re a goalkeeper or a playmaker who walks around when he’s not on the ball.

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Smoking away: Ashley Cole inhales (left) and Ipswich players break outthe Woodbines (below)

A soak and a ciggie: Ipswich Town players relax after a game

Smoking goes against the grain of everything you’re trying to do as an athlete.

I’d expect professional clubs to work hard to stop these habits, using nicotine patches or a counsellor to help wean the player off cigarettes and find out why they needed them in the first place.