Martin Smith: No excuse for acts of reckless stupidity blighting football

Wayne Rooney, Roberto Firmino, Tom Lawrence – what is it with footballers and drink-driving?

Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 12:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 12:25 pm
Footballer Roberto Firmino leaving Liverpool City Magistrates Court where he was charged with drink driving in 2017

Laddish chafing against the rules?

Arrogant disregard for others’ safety?

Sheer stupidity?

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

People get killed by drink-drivers.

Families lose mums, sons and sisters because someone thought it would be smart or hard to drive home after drinking too much.

Of all the people to be charged with drink-driving a footballer should be the last.

He doesn’t need his car to be at work at 6am.

His partner probably doesn’t need his car to get to work either.

School run?

Take a cab or an Uber, you can afford it.

Not every professional footballer is on £150,000 a week but the vast majority earn considerably more than most working familes who somehow manage to run two cars and stay out of court.

Joke with your mates the next day how much it cost you to get home, not how you managed to drive home with one eye closed.

No-one is asking footballers to be saints.

For good and bad, people like a drink.

Which, to most fans, is fine, as long as they’re fit to play for their team at the weekend.

Can a motivated and super-fit 25-year-old have a few beers on a Wednesday night and be fully fit for a game on Saturday?

Yes he can.

Would he be better-off not drinking to get the maximum from his body over a 15-year career as an athlete?

Yes he would.

Despite years of dietary and fitness advice a perceived culture of abstention and a holistic approach to lifestyle that Arsene Wenger and others brought to English football in the 1990s, young men still like to drink.

Drinking is undeniably built into our culture, but that’s no excuse for drink-driving for anyone - especially professional footballers.


Sheffield’s fictional king of beige John Shuttleworth got a surprise mention during BBC Five Live’s coverage of Chelsea v Newcastle on Saturday.

Commentator John Murray to hoarse-voiced co-commentator Rob Green after the former England goalkeeper asked for hot water for his throat: “We’ve got no honey to put in it which is a bit of an oversight. If you don’t mind me saying, you have a touch of the John Shuttleworths about you, I don’t know if you are familiar with his work:

“Oh yes Ken, I am yes, very much,” came Green’s croaky reply.