Callum McManaman opens up on his Wigan Athletic lifeline that's turned his life around

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Callum McManaman has admitted he'd 'had enough of football' and considered himself retired before taking the phone call from Wigan Athletic boss Shaun Maloney that turned his life around.

The 32-year-old officially announced his return in style at the weekend with a brilliant winning goal against Northampton at the DW.

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Callum McManaman and Shaun Maloney on their carbon copy Wigan Athletic winning g...

It's a far cry from six months ago when - having been without a club for the best part of a year - McManaman was, in his own words, 'just doing nothing'.

Callum McManaman officially announced his return at the weekend with a wonder goal against NorthamptonCallum McManaman officially announced his return at the weekend with a wonder goal against Northampton
Callum McManaman officially announced his return at the weekend with a wonder goal against Northampton

No drive, no motivation, no spark.

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Until the conversation with his FA Cup-winning colleague that changed everything.

"He actually rang me," revealed McManaman. "I wasn't ringing anyone, I hadn't trained for six months.

"I wasn't in any shape to be ringing anyone.

"In my head, I'd retired. I was moving on, or trying to.

"I wasn't playing football, I wasn't even trying to keep fit as much as I should have been.

"When the gaffer rang, I was surprised, I didn't know what it was for.

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"He asked me to come in and train with the Under-23s, and see how it went.

"He thought I'd enjoy it, and it might help me get another club, basically trying to help me because we had been team-mates years ago.

"As I got fitter and fitter, I started training with the first team, I was going past players in training, some of them defenders in the Championship last season.

"That started to get my confidence up, and made me start believing I was good enough to be here.

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"It just spiralled from there, and after proving to the manager that I still had it, it was an easy decision to sign the contract."

McManaman readily admits that doubts still persisted at the start.

"To be honest, when I first got the call, I did think: 'What if I came back and ruined my legacy'...'What if I'm not good enough?' he said.

"I doubted everything, I was worried about even coming back in.

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"Obviously I did really well the first time, and not so well the second time.

"I didn't want people to think I was only being invited in to train as a favour, he's only here because he did well a few years ago.

"I was a bit embarrassed to come in at first. That was something I had to get through."

Maloney is on record as saying he made a mistake in not registering McManaman as a player towards the end of last season, so impressed had he been on the training ground.

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And his journey back to the first-team fold was completed at the weekend, when his wonder goal - a carbon copy of Maloney's against Manchester United more than a decade ago - almost blew the roof off the DW.

"I can't explain it, it's unbelievable," said McManaman.

"I've gone from getting up and going out for a coffee every day, going round to see my mates, just doing nothing, to being back training every day and playing at the weekend.

"And just feeling good...I feel better mentally now than I ever did before.

"I think I maybe needed that break, I just didn't know it.

"I kind of wanted to retire, because I had quite a few options when I first left Tranmere, quite a few offers.

"I just didn't want to know, I'd had enough of football.

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"I don't know who the gaffer had spoken to, but I think he just knew...I don't know what he knew, but he knew enough to ring me, when I needed him to.

"I'm only 32, and I haven't played as many games as I know I should have.

"I still think I've got a good few years in me yet."

McManaman also cites Graham Barrow - his old Academy manager - and Maloney's trusted No.2 - as a key factor in his fairytale story.

"He's been massive," added McManaman. "In fact, it was probably Graham who was in the gaffer's ear to get me back to train, I don't know.

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"He's been brilliant for me as long as I've known him, from the word go.

"He doesn't say a lot but, when he does, you listen.

"He has the absolute respect of everyone, especially me.

"And I know he'll be made up for me with how things have turned out.

"Everything is different now.

"I used to moan about I don't moan about anything.

"I'll never take anything for granted again.

"I just have a different mentality now, everything feels completely different.

"Everything's just a lot better now..."