He’s Ex­eter’s man of many tal­ents

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Jimmy Booker

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

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