Tugay: Blackburn hero was 'class' despite smoking '20 cigarettes a day at least'

Tugay in action for Blackburn

Blackburn were an established side in the Premier League at the start of the century.

After slipping down to the division 1 in 1999, it took them just two years to get back to England’s top tier.

One of the first signings that Blackburn made after returning to the Premier League was Tugay Kerimoğlu.

The Turk signed for the club in a £1.3m deal from Rangers. That fee turned out to be huge bargain.

Tugay would enjoy a hugely successful eight years at Rovers. He was a regular during his spell as he played 270 times.

An elegant player who could control a midfield with ease, Tugay only scored 13 times for the club.

But when he did find the back of the net he often did so with an absolute screamer.

Watch some of his best goals below:

Tugay was still playing at a high level when he retired from football at the age of 38.

The Turk produced masterclass after masterclass in the Premier League and it turns out that he did so while smoking over 20 cigarettes a day.

Tugay’s former teammate, Matt Jansen, revealed just how much Tugay smoked during his career.

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Speaking to the Athletic in 2019, the Englishman said: “He smoked like a chimney, 20 a day at least.

“But what a player he was for Blackburn.

“When it was his kind of game, particularly on a good pitch, he would run the show. He had an incredible vision, the best of any player I’ve played with. A class act.”

Jansen then told a story of Tugay smoking at half-time during a Premier League game.

Tugay in action for Blackburn

“He was a throwback to the days when players would just live their lives how they wanted to,” Jansen added.

“There was no use asking Tugay to stop smoking. He would smell of tobacco in the dressing room beforehand.

“Then he would run the show for 45 minutes. Then he would be smoking again at half-time.

“I remember Graeme Souness looking around a dressing-room at half-time and saying, ‘Where’s Tugay?’

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“We all looked over to the toilets and there were rings of smoke coming out of the top of the cubicle. It wouldn’t work for every player, but it certainly worked for Tugay.”

Tugay’s smoking didn’t hinder his ability to perform in the Premier League.

Per the Sun, Mark Hughes labelled him the best player he’d ever managed, while Robbie Savage called him ‘unbelievable’ and the best player he’d ever played with.

The streets will never forget when Tugay balled out in the Premier League for Blackburn… despite his love of cigarettes.

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