Kgosi Ntlhe admits he thought Ian Henderson was “joking” when he asked him to skipper the side for Dale’s League One fixture against Doncaster Rovers at the Crown Oil Arena.
Hendo chose to reward the 24-year-old with the captain’s armband for the match, after Ntlhe had led the side to a Checkatrade Trophy victory against Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night.
“We were having lunch when he said it and I thought he was joking!” explained Ntlhe.
“I was captain on Tuesday, which was a big surprise, but we won and Hendo heard the boys saying that I was a good captain, so he said I could be captain again.
“I’m relatively new to the club and there are players who have been here for a long time, who are older, more experienced than me, so for him to make me captain was a big shock.
“When he told me he was being serious, all I could say was thank you. Hendo is our skipper, he’s the boss and he’s a good captain. All the boys look up to him, so it was a real honour for me to have been asked by him and for me to captain the team.”
And Ntlhe says he’s enjoyed wearing the captain’s armband and the responsibilities that come with it.
“I’ve enjoyed having the extra responsibility, both on Tuesday night and today [Saturday], especially leading the younger boys like Dan Adshead and Luke Matheson, who listened really well.
“The Fleetwood game was a good game for me to be captain for, and I’ve also learned loads today. The result wasn’t what we wanted but I’ve experienced a loss as a captain and I can tell you that it hurts.”
Despite the result, it was a day to remember personally for Ntlhe. Not only did he skipper the side, he also scored a goal, earned his team a penalty and won the Man of the Match of the Award.
“I should have scored two crosses in the first half, which I didn’t, so I had to get that ball. I got to it and luckily enough it was a goal. I couldn’t celebrate because we were behind, so I got back in position.
“I thought we played quite well today but at the end of the day we have to win the game and we have to put points on the board, so from that point of view it was disappointing. We should have done better in both boxes.
“I actually misheard the Man of the Match of announcement, so it was a surprise to come off the pitch and be told it was me who had won it. It’s the first one I’ve won since being at the club and it means a lot to have been chosen today.”
Dale are already through to the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy with a game to spare thanks to Tuesday night’s win, and Ntlhe hopes the young side can make it all the way to the final at Wembley.
“The Gaffer wants to go to Wembley, as well all do. I remember watching the final last season and thinking ‘that could have been us.’ Hopefully we can go all the way there this year.”