IT WILL likely earn him a sharp clip around the ear, but Richie Foran yesterday hailed Maurice Malpas as Caley Thistle’s great unsung hero.
Accepting the inaugural Scottish Professional Football League player of the month award, the Irishman deflected praise for the coup on to fellow players and management.
But it was assistant manager Malpas, the 55-times capped former Dundee United defender, who received the strongest appreciation from the 33-year-old club captain.
Foran’s craft and ferocious appetite in the heart of midfield have been key features in Caley Thistle’s climb to the Premiership summit during a sparkling, unbeaten start. Only Celtic with a draw in Glasgow have, to date, drawn blood from Terry Butcher’s side after five league matches.
But the Dubliner lavished his heartiest praise on the unassuming role that Malpas plays in the background on the training ground.
Foran said: “Maurice doesn’t get much credit but the thing is, he doesn’t want it.
“He’ll probably slap me on the back of the head for even talking about him. He is the sort who just doesn’t want a mention. He just gets on with his job, but he’s top notch – a great coach who knows Scottish football inside out.
“It is a pleasure to work with him and he gets the best out of us, the players. He knows when to run us and when to go easy. He’s a clever, clever man.
“Mo’s knowledge of the game is unbelievable. If I knew five per cent of what he knows about the game in Scotland I’d be doing well. He is the unsung hero of the club but that’s the way he wants it. And I better prepare myself for a slap now for saying this.”
Foran believes Caley Thistle are lucky to have their managerial duo, a pair who have always fared best in their coaching careers while working in tandem. He stressed: “Maurice and the manager have a great relationship. They love their jobs and bounce off each other. It’s a partnership and they keep the lads on their toes.”
Typically, Foran did not want to hog the glory of the August award and said: “I thought our striker Billy McKay was a certainty to win this award because he’s scored five goals already. If he had won it, he would have deserved it because he has been on fire this season. I’m very surprised he’s still here at the club.
“I don’t want to bring attention to him because we don’t want to lose him. But I’m really surprised someone didn’t come in and offer money for him before the transfer window closed.
“Josh Meekings and Gary Warren must have been in the running as well because they’ve been immense at the back.
“Personally, I was delighted when the gaffer told me about it, but I’m delighted for the team because you can only pick up awards if everyone is doing their jobs properly.”