He has been a captain of the junior teams on numerous occasions throughout his career with GB and long-since touted as a potential future captain of the Men’s team as well, and today Carl Wheatle’s dream is realised as he has been named captain by Head Coach Marc Steutel for the National Team’s final two World Cup qualifiers of the campaign against Belgium and Serbia.
24-year-old Wheatle exuded a captain’s energy when we spoke to him last week before the team came together in Newcastle for this final window of the campaign, and he spoke with passion on game day against Belgium about how much being captain means to him.
“It is a huge honour for me.” Wheatle said.
“To have been called a future captain of the team by GB players and coaches in the past has always filled me with a tremendous amount of pride, and now to have this opportunity is something I never thought would happen, but I’m extremely happy and proud.
“I’m a little bit emotional about it to be honest, because to say I’m the captain of such a great team and group of people at this level is something not many people can say. It’s a huge achievement in my career and an incredible feeling. I’m excited to lead the team out for these games and to represent this group and GB as captain.
“I’ve captained junior teams in the past, but I never thought I’d get to do this for the senior team. More and more people have said over the years I could do it, and now I’m here I’m going to relish and enjoy it and do my best to represent this team with the same pride I always have.”
The 27-cap forward is the latest in a long line of exceptional leaders for the team, playing under the leadership of former captains such as Kieron Achara, Dan Clark, Myles Hesson and Gabe Olaseni in his time.
Wheatle discussed what lessons he learned and what impact those former captains have had on him and the qualities he is looking to embody as he fulfils the role for this window.
“I can take a lot from the captains I’ve had previously, for sure. When I first came to GB Kieron (Achara) was captain, and he was a different leader to Dan as was Myles and as was Gabe, so there are things I can learn from all of them – but the thing they all did really well is leading by example and being professional all the time.
“I want to do the same and make sure everybody in the team feels a part of what we’re here to achieve and ready to contribute in the right way. We’re going out there to compete, to represent and to win games and we want to have fun doing it.
“I’m always going to remember this opportunity, whether it is for two games or 200 – it will always be something I cherish and be proud of myself for. I am a GB captain now and it is a hugely proud moment for me and everybody that has supported me on my journey.”
Head Coach Marc Steutel has witnessed much of Wheatle’s journey with the National Team at different levels and gave a glowing endorsement of the young forward’s leadership and qualities when discussing the 24-year-old’s appointment.
“I’ve been fortunate in my time to witness Dan’s leadership as a captain, as well as Myles’ and Gabe’s, and in this window we had some experienced guys as well. Carl is somebody who has been all the way through the pathway from England Under-15s to now, establishing himself as an integral part of the programme throughout.
“His commitment is exceptional and Carl is somebody who will do whatever is required of him for the team to put GB in the best position to win. If that means defending, rebounding, scoring, assisting, whatever role is required of him he embraces it and that’s what you want in a captain.
“He’s got the respect of everybody in the group, it was a natural choice in my mind. Ever since I’ve been in the programme I’ve felt that Carl is a GB captain of the future, and because of the window and where we are now, this opportunity has materialised for him and I’m sure it’ll be a proud moment for him to lead his country in a home game and his first senior game as captain.”
GET YOUR TICKETS
Get your tickets to support Great Britain in their final home game of FIBA 2023 World Cup Qualifying in Newcastle against Belgium on February 24th by clicking here. The team needs your support and we can’t wait to see you in the stands cheering on the team this week!
Both FIBA World Cup Qualifiers against Belgium and Serbia are available to watch live and for free on Courtside1891.basketball!