I spent my youth selling cigarettes: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger
London, Jan 10 (IANS): Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed he was a cigarette seller in his younger days.
The confession came in the wake of his team's goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny being involved in a controversy after being caught smoking in the dressing room following a poor performance where he was blamed for letting in two goals in a 0-2 defeat against Southampton.
"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 was quoted as saying by the guardian.co.uk Saturday.
“I have grown up in a period when I had to accomplish military service. At the end of the month, we got paid by cigarettes. It incited us to smoke. When I was a young boy I grew up surrounded by smokers and I smoked myself when I became a young coach,” he added.
"But times have changed. Society has had an evolution. This is one of the positives today that people don't smoke anymore. You cannot smoke in public spaces, that means people, who are not smokers, don't suffer."
Szczesny was fined 20,000 pounds by the club for his breach of discipline. Teammate Jack Wilshere was also previously caught lighting up. Szczesny has since apologised for his misconduct and Wenger accepted his apology saying that the goalkeeper will learn from his mistakes.
Wenger also said he was himself a smoker and has been pictured puffing during his coaching time at French club Monaco from 1987-1994 but has now kicked the habit.
“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?” he adds.
“Was it down to stress? “Of course.”
Here is an old clip of Arsene Wenger smoking on the bench during his days as AS Monaco’s manager: