Shaun Maloney’s rise from Wigan’s FA Cup hero to Belgium coach alongside Henry

Scotland's appearance at Euro 2020 was the first time they have managed to qualify for a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup.

In the 23 years in between appearances, an entire generation of Scotland players have come and gone without ever getting the chance to represent their country at the highest level.

Among those players is former Celtic and Wigan Athletic star Shaun Maloney, who featured regularly for Scotland during an international career that spanned more than a decade.

However, he never once made it to an international tournament as a player, instead enjoying success at domestic level with five Scottish Premier League title wins and a starring role in Wigan's unlikely 2013 FA Cup final triumph over Manchester City.

Following his retirement from the game in 2017, Maloney took up coaching and he rejoined Celtic as a development coach that same year.

In 2018, Maloney was given the opportunity to join former manager Roberto Martinez's staff at Belgium, just months after their World Cup campaign, and he took the role on a full-time basis in September.

Now, as a coach, Maloney has finally reached a major international tournament and he will be hoping to help Belgium go all the way, after they eliminated holders Portugal in the last 16 to set up a quarter-final clash with Italy.

Maloney is a key part of Martinez's setup, working alongside Arsenal legend Thierry Henry who has returned to Belgium's coaching staff for the tournament after leaving Montreal Impact.

Not only is he working alongside a legendary player like Henry, Maloney is also coaching world-class talents like Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.

Although the jump from coaching Celtic's youth prospects to De Bruyne and co may seem like a steep one, Martinez is clearly a big believer in what Maloney can bring to the table.

The pair spent two seasons working together at Wigan and, speaking back in 2018, Martinez said Maloney possesses an "elite brain" and outlined what he brings to the Belgium setup.

"There are certain individuals who stand out because they are not normal players brought up in the British structure," Martinez explained.

Who will win Euro 2020? Comment below

"Shaun wasn’t built in a system. He was built on an appreciation of space and his technical ability.

"He caught my eye straight away when I was playing in Britain. He looked different to what was around him.

"When we started working together at Wigan, I realised he was a deep thinker. He had incredibly high standards and was someone who was ready to mature.

"Moving to Aston Villa opened up his mentality and from that point on you could see he had an elite brain.

"He’s a very important coach who can help any young player because he has real dedication. His passion for the game is fantastic. He was born with that passion for playing and the best thing after you stop playing is to coach.

"Shaun has a great mind for detail. He’s very natural on the training ground and has a kind feeling for all the players.

"Over the course of his career, he has developed an incredible understanding of how a footballer’s brain goes through different situations.

"He understands what it’s like to go away from your comfort zone and perform in international football. That was always a big enjoyment.

"He brings a lot to the staff with Belgium and he’s enjoying his role with us. He’s someone I really admire in terms of his intelligence and the way he goes about it."

Now, three years into his time with Belgium, Maloney plays a key role and he says that working with some of the best players in the world is "what drives me on."

Speaking to BBC Scotland, Maloney explained: "The level of player is high, so I don't see it as pressure.

"I just feel like it's a motivating factor that we have players at such an elite level. I want to deliver something that is at that level. That's what drives me on.

Don't miss a thing with our football updates!

Want to be on the ball with all of the latest football news?

Well then sign up for the brilliant Daily Star football email newsletter!

From the latest transfer news to the agenda-setting stories, get it all in your email inbox – don't miss a thing.

How do you sign up?

It only takes a matter of seconds.

Simply type your email address into the box at the top of this article and hit 'subscribe'.

And that's it, job done. You'll receive an email with all of the top news stories every single morning.

You can find out more information on our email newsletter on this link here.

"It sounds easy to say, but I just assist Roberto on the pitch. The main tactical part of the session will be led by Roberto and there'll be different technical things before or after it that I will take or will jointly take.

"I'd say 60% of a session will be Roberto. He'll lead the tactical stuff and the rest of it will be taken by myself and a few others.

"This is the elite of the elite. It's a privilege to work them. Kevin is the best player in his position in the world, I would argue.

So many of them have done incredible things with their clubs in all different countries, but the hunger to win something for Belgium is enormous."

Source: Read Full Article