Short in stature, big on desire: Maloney returns to the radar

The young Celtic striker grew up in in Scotland's oil capital, but has an even richer background thanks to his father's own career. Mirri in Malaysia is where Shaun was born and spent the first four years of his life, before the family swapped the Asian heat for the chill North Sea air. The 22-year-old may be short on inches - at just 5ft 6in - but he is long on talent and desire. Maloney has overcome a cruciate ligament injury that stripped almost two seasons from his career to catch not only Walter Smith's eye, but also that of Gordon Strachan.

Both have fallen in love with Maloney. Whereas Berti Vogts was content to leave Maloney in the Under-21 side while he experimented with strikers from off the beaten track - come in Scott Dobie and Dougie Freedman - Smith has seen enough to know that he can no longer leave Maloney out of his plans.

Two years ago, Maloney scored the goal on a memorable success in Germany for Scotland's Under-21s, only to see Darren Fletcher promoted to the full squad and himself left to nurse a sense of injustice. He was soon nursing more than that. A dreadful tackle inflicted damage to his knee - the kid who had been given his debut at the age of 18 by Martin O'Neill against Rangers, and who appeared in the 2003 Uefa Cup final, suddenly found that misfortune can influence a young career as much as fame.

The long rehabilitation meant that Maloney was so far off the radar when Strachan took over at Parkhead in June that the striker was being linked with a move to Aberdeen. However, Maloney was so fuelled with hunger to impress that he not only forced Strachan to send the on-loan Arsenal forward, Jérémie Aliadière, back to London but also to accommodate Maloney in midfield because a flurry of goals as substitute indicated he was too precious to keep on the bench.

"I have been on the fringes for a while now," admitted Maloney. "I knew that this was the season, with the new manager coming in, for me to prove that I was able to come into this team and add something to it. Martin O'Neill showed a lot of confidence in me until I missed a year through injury, and towards the end of last season I was not really right.

"It has been good to start the last couple of games but I think you can only be judged over the course of a whole season. It does not worry me where I play, as long as the manager shows enough confidence in me to play me from the start, because we have such a good squad."

Strachan admitted that the attitude and impact of Maloney and his contemporary, Craig Beattie, were giving him selection problems, every time they stepped off the bench. The man who paid the price was John Hartson, who was dropped last week at Livingston. Now Beattie has two caps to his name and Maloney might just have one by the time the pair return to Scottish Premier League action on Saturday for the summit meeting with leaders Hearts.

"I am not sure I ever thought about leaving," Maloney told Celtic's club magazine, The Celtic View, when asked about a switch to Aberdeen. "After the injury, the little bonuses that come along make you feel the hard work was worth it. One of those was the national call-up."

Maloney offers a debt of gratitude to Rainer Bonhof, Scotland's Under-21 coach: "Last season, when I was lacking fitness, he stuck with me. He showed a lot of faith in me. That was what I needed. However, everyone wants to play at the highest level and I am no different. Alongside the Champions' League, playing in a World Cup tie for your country is the highest level. Walter Smith has come in and put a lot of confidence back. Scotland now go out to try and win games, and hopefully I can add something."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee