What’s wrong with this photo?
It’s obvious: Jack Wilshere’s wearing his baseball cap back-to-front. Hey, bro, the 1990s called and they want their fashion trends back. And their Roxette CDs.
As for the rest of the image: seems like a standard-issue “top player in nightclub with abundance of attractive young women” pic. Yawn.
But what’s that in Wilshere’s left hand? A ballpoint pen in loyal Arsenal red? No. It’s a shisha pipe! Call the morality police… Wilshere’s hanging out with hookahs!
Hookah cafes with their flavored water-pipes are as common in London as pubs, curry houses and fat bald men with earrings calling you “mate”. But it turns out, smoking tobacco is bad for you. Who knew, right? What? Everyone knew? Oh.
Nineties Arsenal were known for having a major drinking problem, in that the Brits were completely wasted, all the time. As ex-midfielder Ray Parlour told the Daily Mail in 2013: “I’ll always remember the moment [defender, now assistant coach] Steve Bould went up to the bar and ordered 35 pints for five of us. After we left the bar we spotted all the French lads in the coffee shop and they were sitting around smoking, I thought how are we going to win the league this year? We’re all drunk and they’re all smoking, and we ended up winning the double that year.”
That was during the summer of 1997, just before Arsène Wenger’s first full season at Arsenal. Clearly, thanks to Wenger’s modernizing, fashionable continental influence, it’s all changed – now it’s the English players smoking as well. And the occasional Pole. Yet they’re still not winning trophies. Huh.
This isn’t the first time Wilshere’s been caught smoking in public. It projects a terrible image, obviously; but is having an occasional cigarette likely to affect the athletic performance of young men who exercise for two hours a day? No, as Wenger has argued. But then, considering the photo floating around of him smoking on the bench while at Monaco, the manager is probably something of an imperfect messenger for the anti-smoking lobby.