Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed he used to sell cigarettes as a youngster growing up in France.
The Gunners’ chief made the bizarre confession following a week of controversy in north London, which was sparked by Wojciech Szczesny smoking in the shower at Southampton following a 2-0 defeat on New Year’s Day.
Wenger revealed in his press conference ahead of Sunday’s clash against Stoke City that the goalkeeper apologised to his teammates for the incident, and the Arsenal boss has played the incident down when discussing his own history with cigarettes.
“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 told the press.
“But times have changed. Society has had an evolution. This is one of the posititves today that people don’t smoke any more. You cannot smoke in public spaces, that means people who are not smokers don’t suffer.”
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Wenger himself has been spotted smoking a cigarette in the past, with an image of the manager puffing away in the dugout during his time in management in France recently doing the rounds on social media.
The Arsenal boss had to double-take to make sure it was him when shown the television footage recently, but admits it did happen and that he wasn’t alone. He also put the bad habit down to stress at the highest level.
“The other day I was on French television, they showed me on the bench smoking a cigarette. I didn’t even think it was me! At that time, I remember Lippi at Juventus smoked a cigar during the whole game in every game. Imagine the guy sitting next to him?”
Was it down to stress? “Of course.”
Top four challenge
Wenger will be hoping for a less stressful second half to the season in 2015, with the Gunners currently sixth in the Premier League table - three points behind fourth-placed Southampton.
North London rivals Spurs are also ahead of Arsenal, and they will need to rectify that if they are to finish in a Champions League place once again.
It remains to be seen whether Wenger will 'punish' his Polish goalkeeper for the cigarette indiscretion against the Potters tomorrow, with David Ospina hoping to keep his place in the side after impressing in the FA Cup.