Twitter fan Andy Murray is 'a real role model for our country' says Wigan striker Shaun Maloney

The pair played each other at tennis when they were younger

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The Independent Football

“Used to play tennis against shaun maloney... Pretty cool watching him play in fa cup final a few years later!”

Having won the FA Cup Shaun Maloney was already in a very good mood when he was informed by the media, in the bowels of Wembley on Saturday night, that the world's third best tennis player had tweeted how 'cool' it was watching him playing at Wembley.

"I didn't know he had tweeted about me so that's pretty nice," said Maloney before explaining "[Andy Murray] is a few years younger so we were different age groups - he was 9 or ten and I was about 13 - but I remember him being very talented. Your paths cross because he was so young and playing in the regionals. He's a real role model for our country. For a smaller nation to say we have one of best in world at something its pretty inspiring for other athletes.

Maloney quit the circuit, he said, because "I was nothing of note - sort of regional level - and I then got called up to Celtic. That was my team and I was a little bit better at football. I still love watching tennis - I've been to watch Murray at the 02."

Maloney has since made a name for himself with 27 Scottish caps, five Scottish titles and the Scottish players' union player of the year award, but he said winning the FA Cup with Wigan was as good as it got. 

"Its just incredible," he said. "I don't think it's sunk in yet. I am sure it will in a few days or weeks but I never allowed myself to think what we would do if we won. It is very difficult to describe the joy and relief when the final whistle goes.

"Winning the league with the team you support is pretty special, but in terms of the size of club this has to be up there with anything I've achieved in the game. At Celtic there was desperation to win so your rivals don't - but here it was just the joy of our own club winning and creating history. I doubt it will be forgotten - I hope in years to come another Wigan side will win it, but at this present time it feels pretty special to be the first."

Maloney took the corner from which Ben Watson scored the winner but admitted, "I didn't pick him out - I just put the ball into an area where people can go and head the ball, to give us a chance we might get a goal. He's attacked it, got a glancing header on it and it's a marvellous goal.

"It's an incredible story for Ben to come back from injury and score the winner in an FA Cup Final like that. It is difficult for a professional footballer to be out for a long period of time. There's the first night in the hospital after breaking his leg and the impact it has on not just him but his family too. Then there's the work that goes in; there is some tedious work for months on end and it can be a pretty lonely place to be. I'm just delighted for him."