ESPN FC: Wilshere under fire for smoking
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hit out at Jack Wilshere after the midfielder was photographed smoking a cigarette outside a London nightclub.
Wenger was unimpressed with Wilshere’s behaviour and used his latest news conference to give the 21-year-old star a very public dressing down.
“I disagree completely with that behaviour,” Wenger said. “I don’t know what has happened and I will have to have a chat with him about that. When you are a footballer you are an example and also don’t do what damages your health.
“You can smoke at home and drink at home and nobody sees it, but when you go out socially, you damage your reputation as well. I have not spoken to him yet and what I say will be between him and me.”
Wenger suggested a change in cultural behaviour is one of the reasons why Wilshere's indiscretions cannot be tolerated, saying things have changed since his days as a player in France.
“I must say the English society is very sensitive to smoking as well,” Wenger said. “It is more shocking here than somewhere like France and you don’t need to convince me that times have changed.
“Things are different, in England, especially. I travelled as a football player on coaches in France when you didn’t see each other with so much smoke on the coach -- everybody smokes. Times have changed. The example, the role model request on players, has changed as well.”
But for the record....I don't smoke!— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) October 4, 2013
Wenger insisted Wilshere will continue to be a key player in his plans for this weekend’s game at West Bromwich Albion and stressed his omission from Tuesday night’s Champions League game against Napoli was not a sign that he has slipped down the pecking order in his first team.
“He is a very important player here,” he said. “In my plans for the future of the club, they have always built around Jack. We have some setbacks with him, a lot of setbacks, but he is a very important player in my squad.”
Wilshere’s representative has insisted the player does not smoke and that the image was misleading, telling The Sun: "Jack was with teammates and friends. One dared Jack, who does not smoke, to momentarily hold the cigarette as part of a prank.
"Jack absolutely didn't smoke the cigarette, and nor does he condone smoking. Jack is utterly committed to fitness and a healthy lifestyle. In no way is this picture an accurate reflection of his attitude towards smoking."