Former Arsenal and current Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has narrated the story of the smoking incident which saw him fined and dropped by Arsene Wenger before his transfer to Turin.
Szczesny was the Arsenal number one back in 2015 but a few bad results and him smoking in the dressing room saw the Polish keeper dropped by then Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, which eventually led to a transfer away from the Emirates.
Arsenal travelled to Southampton on New Years Day 2015 and succumbed to a 2-0 loss to the Saints that day with Szczesny making two crucial errors that led to both goals by Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic.
Recounting the incident on the Arsenal Nation podcast, as quoted by the Daily Mirror, Szczesny said:
“Back at that time I was smoking regularly and the boss knew it very well.
“He just didn’t want anybody smoking in the dressing rooms and I knew that also.
“Because of the emotion of the game, I had a cigarette after the game when the team was still in. I went in the corner of the showers, so it was at the other end of the dressing room and nobody could see me, and I lit one up.
“Somebody saw me, it wasn’t even the boss himself, and just reported it back to the boss. I saw him a couple of days later, he asked me if that was true and I said, ‘Yes’. He fined me and that was the end of it.
“He then said, ‘Look, you’re going to be out of the team for a little bit’ but there was no big bust-ups or big confrontations. I was very professional about it.”
“I was fully expecting to be back in the team a few weeks later but we had a good run of form and David Ospina, who came in goal, played really well for those few games. He stayed in.”
“That meant I was waiting and trying to win my place back in the team, or trying to convince him that I was still the best goalkeeper at the club by going out on loan. That sounds strange but sometimes it’s the best way of doing it.” he added.
Szczesny played only five more times for Arsenal following that incident and he was then sent out on loan to Roma the following summer.
Since then the Polish keeper has become Juventus’ number one shot-stopper ahead of the legendary Gianluigi Buffon.
However, while the incident didn’t directly lead to his transfer, it’s an interesting account by Szczesny nonetheless.