By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger has both a “moral and physical’ objection to footballers smoking but also admits that he used to have the odd cigarette himself years ago to relieve the pressures of being a young coach.

The issue is in the news after pictures of William Gallas appeared in an English newspaper on Friday morning. It was showed the Arsenal captain with an unlit cigarette in his hand.

At his Friday press conference, Wenger said he would be asking the 31-year-old about the story. But, he recalled, it was part of football culture in France years ago.

“Smoking has both a physical and moral impact [on a player],” he said. “But there is smoking and then there is smoking. You did get players who’d smoke 40 cigarettes a day but now it is much less.

“When I was a player, nobody would ever tell you that you should not smoke. We were driving home in coaches where you had to open the windows in winter to see each other.

“I never smoked a lot and never when I played. But when I became a young coach I had an assistant who smoked and, at 3am in the morning when you have lost a big game, I might have one.”

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24 Oct 2008