David Wheater: Talentspotter

Former Middlesbrough centre back David Wheater, now at Bolton Wanderers, talks to FourFourTwo in 2007.

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Redcar, 14/04/87


I’ve got loads where do you want me to start? Apparently I look like Robert Huth so some of the boys have taken to calling me Huthy, otherwise I’m known as Rodders or Wheats.

Club supported as a boy
I’m a Middlesbrough boy so I’ve grown up supporting the club. My family are a mix though, some are from London so it’s either Boro or Millwall.

I would like to think that I’ve got most of the attributes needed to be a decent defender but if you’re pushing me I would say that my main strengths are my heading and my tackling.

Probably better off asking the other lads! Maybe my fitness still needs a bit of work but it’s definitely improving and the more I’m involved in the first team the better it’s going to get.

I play a bit like...
He might not agree but I reckon I play a bit like Jonathan Woodgate, he’s top man and he’s always helping the younger players here. He’s a Boro lad too so he was always someone I looked up to when I was coming through the ranks.

Getting called up for the England U21 side was a great honour, but probably the highlight of my career so far was scoring against Fulham last season. I'd played against them earlier in the season when we lost at Craven Cottage and then managed to get my head on a corner when we beat them at home. To score at the Riverside was an amazing feeling.

Funnily enough it was also against Fulham! Steve McClaren gave all the young lads a runout in the last game of the 2005 season and I gave away a penalty. We lost too, 1-0, so it was a pretty shocking afternoon all round.

Toughest opponent
Thierry Henry. I played when we lost 7-0 to them at Highbury and he was just incredible. It wasn’t just his pace – he has everything. They would have thrashed anyone that afternoon and although the result couldn’t have been worse it was a great learning experience. Having said that I’m not too disappointed that he’s left for Barcelona!

Best player played with
It would have to be Woody. He’s just different class. When you play alongside him he talks to you all the time and really helps you out when you’re struggling. He’s got such a calm presence on the pitch.

Biggest influence
There’s been a few. Definitely my mum and dad, they’ve always been there for me throughout my career. At Boro the boss [Gareth Southgate] has been great too. As a young player it’s brilliant to be at a club where you know you’re going to get a chance to prove yourself. Hopefully I’m repaying some of the faith he has shown in me.

Biggest joker at the club
Andrew Davies is pretty funny and Steve Harrison, our coach, is constantly having a laugh and a joke. You have to keep your wits about you all the time.

I’m driving an Astra convertible but I’m hoping to get a new motor soon.

Good question, can’t actually remember the last time I went to the cinema. I think it might have been The Departed, can’t tell you too much about it though.

My girlfriend is going to read this so I better say her.

TV programmes
Only Fools and Horses. They’re all classics.

If I hadn’t been a footballer
I’ve never given it much thought so it’s hard to say. I would probably have just had an office job. Luckily it’s not something I have to worry about at the moment.

Describe yourself in five words
Funny, hardworking, tall and bald. There you go, not great but they’ll do.

If I could play alongside any player...
I would love to play alongside John Terry. He’s just a great defender and a brilliant leader. He never holds back when he makes a challenge either!

Most embarrassing moment
It'd have to be that penalty I gave away at Fulham. It’s not something I'd like to repeat in a hurry. I haven’t given any away so far this season and I'd like to keep it that way.

In five years' time...
I'll be a regular in the Boro first team, playing regularly in Europe and maybe pushing for an England place. I’m going to be busy!

From the October 2007 issue of FourFourTwo.