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Muted celebrations for Bolton's Wheater
Published : 26 Mar 2012 08:47:05
David Wheater curbed his status as Bolton's number one practical joker to such an extent he did not even celebrate his first Premier League game for the club on Saturday.
Life at the Reebok Stadium is slowly returning to some kind of normality following Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest although the midfielder remains in intensive care. And for all Wheater's delight at the opening effort of his two-goal contribution to a 2-1 win over Blackburn that took Bolton out of the bottom three, he did not feel it was appropriate to celebrate.
"I started to run off and Darren Pratley told me to calm down," said Wheater. "Scoring is the best feeling in the world but sometimes you have to calm your celebrations when other things are happening."
Wheater has known Muamba for a decade, having appeared in various England youth teams with the 23-year-old. And he admitted the numbness felt at White Hart Lane in the wake of Muamba's collapse.
"I like to laugh and joke but I didn't know what to do last Saturday," he said. "I was walking around like a zombie. Everyone was.
"Win, lose or draw, I like to try and keep the lads happy and have a mess about. You couldn't last week. It was weird. The few days we had off at the start of last week were hard. There were long days thinking about it.
"Once we got back into training, the lads had a smile on their face again and we knew we had to win for Fabrice."
Now they face an even more testing occasion as they go to Tottenham for that re-arranged FA Cup quarter-final. The game does offer Bolton's players a chance to nip in and see their stricken team-mate, who has amazed specialists with his recovery over the past eight days, even if there is still so much further to go.
And, if he gets a chance, Wheater to tell Muamba all about the first brace of his entire professional career.
"He won't believe it," said the centre-half. "I don't think anyone does."