CHICAGO (Jan. 25, 2015) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Sunday that the club has reached a transfer agreement with English Championship side Wigan Athletic for Shaun Maloney. The Scottish midfielder has signed with the Fire and will be added to the roster as a Designated Player upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate and his P1 Visa. Per MLS and team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Shaun is a very experienced player, having played in both the English and Scottish Premier Leagues, and we’re very happy to have signed someone of his caliber,” said Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop. “His style of play fits in exactly with what we’re trying to do at the Fire. He’s a hard-working, attack-minded player who is really going to help this team and we’re excited to have signed him.”
Maloney joins the Fire after three and a half years with Wigan. The 32-year-old signed with the Latics on Aug. 31, 2011 and made his debut in a Carling Cup match on Sept. 13, 2011, and made his Premier League start on March 17, 2012 against West Brom Albion. In the next match, Maloney scored his first goal for the club, converting a penalty kick in a 2-1 victory over Liverpool on March 24, 2012. His next goal for Wigan came on April 11, 2012 with a game-winning shot from outside the 18 yard box in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Two matches later, Maloney added a goal and an assist as Wigan defeated Newcastle 4-0 on April 28, 2012.
On April 13, 2013 Maloney scored the first goal of a 2-0 victory over Millwall in the FA Cup semifinal match. In the final match, Maloney provided the assist on Ben Watson’s 91st minute game-winning goal as Wigan upset Manchester City at Wembley Stadium to capture their first ever FA Cup trophy and the first major trophy in club history.
Across all competitions, Maloney appeared in a combined 91 matches, scoring 15 goals and adding 17 assists for Wigan.
“I’m very happy to be joining the Fire,” said Maloney. “I owe a lot to the manager Frank Yallop and the owner Andrew Hauptman for getting this done. I certainly didn’t expect it to get done this quickly, so I appreciate the faith that they’ve shown in me. It’s a brilliant league and I’m really hopeful that I’m going to enjoy Chicago and be a big part of what the club is building. I’d also like to show respect for my previous club and thank the owner and manager over at Wigan for letting this happen.”
Maloney has joined the team in Chicago and will be introduced at a press conference at Toyota Park on Monday, Jan. 26 at 9:15 a.m. CT.
“It’s important to have players in from the start of preseason and get them integrated into the team and with the other players,” said Yallop. “It takes time to learn each others’ traits and how they go about things on the field, so it’s great to have Shaun in with the group from the start. We worked very hard to get this deal done and feel very good that he’s finally with us now.”
Born in Miri, Malaysia, Maloney grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland and joined Celtic as a trainee in 1999. He made his first team debut on April 29, 2001 against Rangers. In 2003, Maloney helped Celtic reached the UEFA Cup Final, scoring in a 3-1 win over VfB Stuttgart in the quarterfinal round.
After starting only one game in the 2004-05 season due to a ligament injury, Maloney bounced back to have a banner year the following season. In 2005-06, Maloney scored 16 goals and tallied 28 assists, earning both the SPFA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year honors. After 138 appearances, 37 goals and 56 assists in all competitions for the Bhoys, Maloney departed for English Premier League side Aston Villa in 2007.
Maloney made his Premier League debut on Feb. 10, 2007 and on April 28, 2007, scored his first goal for the club against Manchester City. He scored seven goals and tallied seven assists in 33 appearances for Villa before returning to Celtic in August 2008.
In his return to Celtic, Maloney assisted twice in his first match back on Aug. 23, 2008 and scored his first goal in the fifth minute of a 4-2 win over Motherwell on Sept. 13, 2008. Maloney made 84 appearances across all competitions for Celtic in his second stint with the club, including 18 matches in European play, and scored 15 goals and added 18 assists, helping the Bhoys capture the Scottish Cup in 2011 and the Scottish League Cup in 2009.
A Scottish youth international, Maloney made his senior international debut for Scotland when he entered in the second half of a World Cup Qualifying match against Belarus on Oct. 8, 2005 and scored his first international goal on June 6, 2007 in a UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier against the Faroe Islands. Maloney has since earned 36 caps and scored four times for Scotland.
Additionally, the Fire announced Sunday that the club has re-signed Brazilian midfielder Alex, who joined the Fire during the 2012 summer transfer window from Swiss side FC Wohlen. The Sao Paolo, Brazil product has scored three goals and added two assists for the Men in Red in 75 regular season appearances. In seven career Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches, the 26-year-old tallied one goal and one assist, and has one postseason goal to his credit, scoring against the Houston Dynamo in 2012.