Shaun Maloney on the 'amazing story' behind Wigan Athletic's unlikely 'leader'
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This time last year, McManaman was without a club and, seemingly, with a future in the game.
However, shortly after Maloney - his former team-mate from the Premier League winners - was installed as Latics boss midway through last term, everything changed.
A chance phone call saw him start to train with the club's Under-21s.
And having earned a 12-month deal, McManaman has rolled back the years, with no-one having made more than his 21 appearances this term.
"Callum's in a really good place," acknowledged Maloney.
"He's been coming on and having good impacts, and the things he's been doing at the training ground, away from the stadium...he's actually turned into a real leader for us.
"Every single day he works incredibly hard, even when he's not starting, and he's just got moments of magic in him.
"We're very fortunate he's able to produce those moments."
Maloney has seen first hand the huge difference between McManaman at the beginning and the end of his career.
"He's really stepped up, and it's something we've really searched for this season, in terms of those people who are important for the culture," added the Latics boss.
"I speak a lot about Josh Magennis, in the very different way he leads.
"Callum, too, gives us something special...he trains 100 per cent every single day, whether he's playing or not.
"He's a role model for our young players, of which we have a lot.
"Quietly, in the dressing room, he just tells it like it is.
"He's been out of the game for a year, he's been on the bench, he's started games, he's scored winning goals...and his attitude never changes.
"It's incredible to think he didn't play football for most of last season.
"And he's worked so hard to get back to where he is now.
"He gave this football club - and myself - the greatest day of our careers.
"It was the least we could do at that moment in time to give him the opportunity to get his career back on track.
"I could never have imagined it would have gone this well, but it's an amazing story."