SHAUN MALONEY has opened up about his call of duty to Celtic that paved the way to the next chapter of his career.

Only a few months ago Maloney looked set to pen a deal with Aberdeen, the club of the city he grew up in, lining up what would have been a poignant end to a career which has taken the Parkhead forward to America, within touching distance of tournament qualification with Scotland and also to FA Cup glory.

However, an emerging hip problem scuppered the move, with the honest Maloney having a frank and open discussion with Derek McInnes and the Pittodrie club about the potential ramifications in terms of rehab. It effectively ended his playing career there and then, only for his phone to ring just days later with the voice of Brendan Rodgers offering him a coaching position with the Scottish champions’ under 20s. It was a call he couldn’t turn down.

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“You’re talking less than a week between knowing I was stopping and this job becoming available,” explained Maloney. “I met Brendan on a Thursday and I started on the Monday.

“The manager drove it but the first time I met him was on the Thursday.

“I know I’m really fortunate to be here because the way that the club is is perfect for a young coach to learn.

“I understand the position I’ve been given.”

He went on: “For me, the toughest bit was speaking to the clubs. Hull wasn’t too bad because they knew my medical history but Aberdeen is my home town and I would’ve liked to have gone back there.

“But I couldn’t have gone there and not told them and then sat there for a year or six months or however long it was, taking away a part of the squad that the manager is trying to build. Telling them there might be an issue was hard. But by the time we found out it was worse than I’d thought, my decision had been made.

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“I spoke to the manager and the club doctor. My parents have had to pick me up after surgery and then stay with me for weeks afterwards and it’s getting to the stage where that’s getting more difficult for them. The idea of going through that again, only on a bigger scale, was unappealing. Also, from a personal point of view, you reach the stage where you know you’re never going to get back to a certain level.

“I haven’t had a single day where I’ve missed playing; the last couple of years have been pretty unenjoyable, in fact.”

Maloney went into frank and honest detail about the moment he knew that time was no longer on his side. It came on June 4 in Metz when Gordon Strachan’s Scotland team were taken apart by France. On what was a dismal day for the Scots, it was a watershed moment for their winger who knew at that point his international career was up, with the reality of his club career following soon after.

“The France game was a tough one and I didn’t ever want to get to the point where I was taking something that I didn’t deserve,” he explained. “Thankfully that was the last game because any other team there would have been players more deserving.

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“I never understood retiring from international football. I just thought you got to a point where you didn’t get picked.

“I don’t think he would have picked me. I think people just know.

“You get to a point where you are just not at that level. I tried unbelievably hard after that France game. I went on a three-week training camp before pre-season and when I came back to pre-season at Hull I was just about able to keep up with the rest of the squad. And that was me after trying really as hard as I could.

“You just know it’s going to be very difficult at that age. It happens and you need to be aware of it. It’s just unfortunate the injury at the end came.”

Maloney is now in his happy place after going full circle. One of the brightest talents to emerge during the prolific Martin O’Neill era that was dominated with the likes of Larsson, Sutton, Petrov and Hartson, the wee, softly spoken Aberdeen native made a name for himself in emphatic style. Sixteen years on after making his debut in green and white, he is relishing helping the next generation do the same.

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“It’s completely changed from when I started,” he said. “There’s a different was for managers to speak – no-one is ruled by fear anymore.

“There’s a brand new way to coach a team. I’m with the development team so you try not to consider the game, but how to improve an individual.

“My job is to get them ready for first-team football and prepare them for all that it brings.”

“You try and have a range of skills and be there as a coach with an open door policy. Kids at 17 go through things that can be difficult and I’d imagine the pressure is different to what I felt at that age.

“You have to drive them to improve.”

Shaun Maloney was speaking as Celtic unveiled their Soccer Academy's October Skills Schools are back again this autumn. For more information visit or call 0871 226 1888.