He’s Exeter’s man of many talents
DAVID Wheeler made a telling contribution in Exeter City’s victory over Cheltenham Town last weekend, but the winger is just as influential off the pitch as he is on it.
Wheeler’s late double eight days ago helped the Grecians to a much-needed 3-1 win at their fellow League Two strugglers, yet his activities away from the field defy the usual footballing stereotypes.
He is Exeter’s PFA representative, has a keen interest in politics and has spoken out about the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
On the pitch, the 26-yearold has made almost 150 appearances for Paul Tisdale’s men since joining from Staines Town in 2013.
Away from the daily grind of training, he attended his first PFA annual general meeting in Manchester at the end of November.
One area Wheeler is particularly passionate about is strengthening support for players suffering from mental health issues.
“It’s important that mental health is right at the forefront of everything that goes on,” he explained.
“Over the years, I think that’s the one thing that’s been neglected and led to some really serious issues.
“There needs to be a very specific point of contact for players who have, for whatever reason, got into trouble psychologically.”
Wheeler’s responsibilities largely consist of reporting PFA proposals to the players, as well as taking their concerns in the other direction.
It’s important, he insists, to ensure players understand they have the network of support if and when they need it.
“We need to be mindful of the measures and warn players on the kind of things they’re looking to crack down on,” Wheeler added.
“Sometimes people forget about the sort of services available to them. If people need advice financially or about anything, it’s there for them.”
He is also aware that the pressures of social media and instant news have added an extra level of scrutiny to players’ lives.
“It would be nice if we were in an industry where you could completely speak your mind, but every time you do, there’s a chance it could turn into a big story and have a negative impact.
“The news is 24 hours, instant with social media and updates on your phone.”
THINKER: City’s David Wheeler