Roy Hodgson has dismissed concerns about Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere smoking a shisha pipe by revealing that he has tried the hookah himself and found it left him with nothing more than “a faint fruity taste in the mouth”.
The England manager, 67, was speaking for the first time since the long winter break for international football and addressed a number of topics, including the drink-driving conviction for the West Bromwich Albion striker Saido Berahino.
A picture posted this month on Instagram of Wilshere in a London club caught the injured player with a shisha pipe in his hand, the third time in the last two years he has either been photographed smoking or with the means to do so. Hodgson will pick his squad later this month for March’s Euro 2016 qualifier against Lithuania and friendly against Italy in Turin.
Asked about the incident, the England manager said: “I thought tobacco was smoking and shisha pipes were water with flavour.” He said he was unclear on whether nicotine was involved.
“Well, you are blowing in and you’re blowing out. As an ex-cigar smoker, when I tried it [shisha] I thought it was a complete nonsense, I couldn’t understand who would do it. Apart from a faint fruity taste in your mouth that was about the end of it.
“As far as I am concerned that is a club matter and Arsène [Wenger] dealt with it very, very well. If you are asking me, in an ideal world, is that an ideal thing to happen? Of course it isn’t but we don’t live in an ideal world. I am happy it has been dealt with and it won’t occupy a lot of my time with Jack when I see him because we have a football match to win.”
The British Heart Foundation has warned that smoking shisha could be as dangerous as smoking cigarettes, potentially even more so. In a warning, the BHF said: “The average shisha-smoking session lasts an hour and research has shown that in this time you can inhale the same amount of smoke as from more than 100 cigarettes.”
Wilshere has been back in full training this week and is expected to be in the Arsenal squad to face Middlesbrough on Sunday in the FA Cup fifth round.
Hodgson also revealed that Berahino, 21, who pleaded guilty to drink-driving last month, was contacted by the Football Association and reminded of his responsibilities as an England footballer by Dan Ashworth, the FA’s technical director. Berahino, a key player for the Under-21s, was selected in Hodgson’s last senior squad but is yet to make his senior debut.
Hodgson said: “It’s been dealt with. He [Berahino] has been reprimanded and as far as we are concerned the matter is closed. It is up to him to put that behind him and show with his future behaviour that he has taken the reprimand on board.”
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