Latics favourite Paul Scharner gives his view on Dave Whelan stepping down as Chairman.
- Paul Scharner on Dave Whelan.
- “He is a huge mentor for me.” – Scharner.
- “He is one of the most important people in my career.” – Scharner.
Now back in his native Austria, Scharner took time out of his busy schedule to discuss the week’s news.
“It was quite a surprise to be honest,” said the 34-year-old.
“I think it was obviously a very big and difficult decision for him to make because of how much he loves the club.”
Scharner, who joined the club in 2005, recalled his first meetings with Dave Whelan, adding:
“He has been one of the most important people in my career. I’m told he was at Old Trafford in 2005 with Paul Jewell when I played for Austria against England and that’s when they both decided they really wanted to sign me.
“My first meeting with him in person was outside the gates at the training ground and the first thing he said to me, because I had my glasses on, was ‘Paul, you need to get laser eye surgery, I had it a couple of months ago and it’s been brilliant.’”
“From that moment on I knew I would get on very well with him and respect him a lot because he had that sense of humour, but also I saw it as a good way of being welcomed at the club.”
It wasn’t the only piece of advice Whelan would give to Scharner, and upon leaving the club for West Bromwich Albion in 2010, the Austrian was met with quick wit.
“He was such a huge mentor for me not just in how I settled in England, but also my position on the pitch.
“When I left Wigan to join West Brom he said to me ‘Paul, you are a centre back,’ and I didn’t believe him at the time, but he was 100% right.
“When I came back I think he should have written in my contract that I had to play centre back.
“Seriously though, I had matured a lot when I returned to the club and by then I had realised centre back was my best position and the Chairman was right all along.”
Scharner has often found himself drawn back to the club since leaving after the FA Cup winning season, and he said it’s the story of Whelan and the legacy he has built which makes the club a special place.
“Mr Whelan is a self-made man, he set his whole life up for himself and it has to be admired the way he has taken Wigan Athletic on this incredible journey over the last 20 years.
“He put every bit of energy into the club, he wanted to take the club and the town to the very top and that’s exactly what he did.
“He gave me the chance to play in the Premier League and that’s why I have always felt very connected to Wigan Athletic Football Club and especially Dave Whelan because nobody believed the club would play in the Premier League. My situation in Austria was very similar; I had dreams of playing in the Premier League and people laughed at me, but I achieved my dream and that’s why I love Wigan so much.”
Looking forwards in his own career, Scharner finished by updating us on his current path, saying:
“At the moment I’m looking forwards and planning for the future after spending a lot of time with my family and relaxing.
“Now I’m looking to a new challenge and I’m hoping to use my experience to help people. I don’t want to be a coach; I am a lot more interested in sports management behind the scenes.
“I’ve been studying a lot of different clubs and how they operate; I’m very interested in the different philosophies and for me this is an intriguing part of my life.”