'Ultra-dedicated' Wigan Athletic old-boy tipped for the top

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has backed his former Wigan Athletic colleague Shaun Maloney to make a lasting impact on Scottish football as Hibernian's new manager.

By Paul Kendrick
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 9:43 am
Updated Thursday, 30th December 2021, 9:55 am
Shaun Maloney and Roberto Martinez during their Latics days
Shaun Maloney and Roberto Martinez during their Latics days

The former winger left Martinez's coaching staff to move to Easter Road on a three-and-a-half year deal this month.

He spent three years with Belgium, helping them become the top-ranked nation in the world, and Martinez believes Maloney will thrive in Scotland.

He said: "I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can change in the next 18 months because I know he can bring a different approach to Scottish football with the ideas of working in international football.

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"It's going to be good for Hibs and the development of Scottish football in general.

"He has really strong values, he doesn't just want to manage a team and win games, he wants to build a football club, the philosophy, develop the players and have a long-term vision for recruitment.

"He is ready, for us it has been fantastic to have him working with the team for three years.

"He is someone I know as a player and that transformation to become an ultra-dedicated coach was fantastic.

"I would have loved to have kept him until the World Cup because it's only round the corner. The reality is he got really intrigued by the project.

"Once he met the owner and CEO he believed in the project and long-term future of the club."

Maloney has won his opening two games, beating Aberdeen and Dundee United, before Scotland's winter break was brought forward following new Covid restrictions for sporting events.

Hibs return to action at Celtic on January 17 and Martinez believes the players will immediately back Maloney because of the sacrifice he has already made.

He said: "It's an important moment for the players and everyone to see someone who is happy to turn down the opportunity to coach at a World Cup because he is so dedicated.

"It got to a point where he could not turn the opportunity down. We loved his work so much, we know he is ready and we will support him from a distance. He will be able to build something at Hibs.

"There are really great times coming to Hibs, his vision will be very contagious. We wish him the best of luck."

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