Shaun Maloney: Talentspotter

Wigan Athletic's diminutive Scottish forward talks to FourFourTwo in April 2002, when he was 19 and playing north of the border for Celtic.

Full name
Shaun Richard Maloney.

Born
24/1/83, in Malaysia but I was raised in Aberdeen.

Nickname
They call me Pan – apparently it's after some player who played in the '80s for Newcastle but I'm not really sure about that.

Club supported
Although I grew up in Aberdeen I've always been a Celtic supporter. I didn't get too hard a time. The Celtic-Rangers thing isn't really that big in Aberdeen; there's more of an Aberdeen-Rangers rivalry.

Clubs played for
I signed for Celtic on an 'S' and worked my way up from the Under-13s.

International honours
Three Scotland Under-21 caps so far.

Cards
One yellow card. I got it for diving at Pittodrie, of all places. I thought it was maybe 50/50.

Position
Striker. I don't mind whether I'm playing as an out-and-out striker or behind the front two – wherever the manager wants me.

Strengths
Probably my pace at this stage.

Weaknesses
My height, or lack of it. I'm not the tallest of strikers.

Who do you play most like?
I would never say I'm anywhere near as good as him, but Michael Owen is also small and quick. If there's anyone I model my game on, it would be him. He's worked hard on his game over the past couple of years to add to his natural pace and he's a good role model for young players.

Heroes
I play with most of mine. If I singled anyone out I'd have to say Henrik Larsson. He's great in the air, quick and strong – the complete player.

Career highlights
When I made my debut in the Old Firm game against Rangers last season. I came on as a substitute. We won the match and Lubo Moravcik was frightening in that game – he scored two unbelievable goals.

Career lowlights
The way things have been going at Celtic since I made my debut, there haven't really been any lows – touch wood.

Best advice
George Adams was Celtic's youth development officer in the north-east, and the man who had a big say in whether or not Celtic signed me. He basically told me to work hard and be ready to take my chance when it came. That's what I did and it seems to have worked.

Biggest influence
I'd have to say my parents. There were times when I thought I might not make it, or when I had a bad game when I was younger, but they were always there to keep me going – my mother, especially – so credit where it's due.

Transport
Peugeot 206.

Tunes
I'll listen to anything in the charts. The car radio's always on but I've got no favourites.

Hobbies
The old game of golf, and I like to play tennis when I get the chance. But in the winter you get so many games and the schedule is so hectic that you don't really have the time.

Atomic Kitten or Destiny's Child?
Destiny's Child.

Corrie or EastEnders?
EastEnders, definitely.

Austin Powers or James Bond?
What kind of question is that? [Laughs] I'll go for Austin Powers – not that I'm a party animal but I'm definitely not a James Bond type.

In five years' time I'll be...
Hopefully still at Celtic, hopefully a first-team regular, and hopefully with full international honours.

If I wasn't playing football...
I'd have gone to college or university, I think. I was very interested in history at school. Obviously I played sport as well, but if I could have done anything with history I would have done that. It could still happen, but hopefully it doesn't.

Interview: Andy Dougan. From the April 2002 edition of FourFourTwo.


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