TAM McMANUS orders a cup of tea with milk and no sugar. If only that had been his drink of choice as a young man then things might have turned out differently for him.

The former Hibernian player, who has another 14 clubs on his cv, has been retired for a year now and over recent months has transferred himself into becoming one of the sharpest pundits on BBC Radio Scotland.

His analysis of games, players and his honesty makes him stand out from so many others who offer bland platitudes. He can write as well; his blogging is up there with any from an ex-pro.

We meet to talk about his new life and old. McManus is 35 but a few lines aside looks more or less the same as he did as a 17-year-old striker at Hibs.

Tam, only his mum calls him Thomas, was a hard man not to like then and it’s the same now. McManus had highs and lows in his own career and therefore can speak with authority about when things go wrong.

As good a pundit as Gary Neville is, he doesn’t have a clue what it’s like to be on loan at Boston United and hating every second of it.

“Hindsight is great,” says McManus when asked to reflect on his days as a player. “If I could speak to the young me I’d say to that lad to knuckle down, have a better attitude and be a better professional on and off the pitch.

“It is regret. Everyone has them, I think. Most players who didn’t give it everything in terms of commitment will look back and wish it had been different. I had a decent career, it could have been a lot better, it should have been a lot better, but I honestly can’t complain. I played something like 400 games at a decent level.

“My attitude off the pitch wasn’t great at times. I went out at the wrong time, I ate the wrong food, and I loved my fizzy drinks, just the good old west coast of Scotland diet. That held me back. I would struggle to play a full 90 minutes. I don’t think I played a full match that often. At 60 or 70 minutes I blew a gasket and that was down to me not training properly and not looking after myself.”

It is frustrating to hear this because not only was McManus an exciting footballer, his highlights reel includes superb goals at Ibrox and Celtic Park. He had ability, but acknowledges it wasn't put to the best use at times.

“When Alex McLeish left Hibs and Bobby Williamson came in, I had just signed a five-year contract and I rested on my laurels a little bit I’m afraid,” he admits. “I didn’t have the hunger I had to get that contract as a teenager coming through. I didn’t have the same bite about me.

“I allowed people to overtake me, which I shouldn’t have, and that was all down to me. I hear Derek Riordan sometimes and he speaks about different managers not playing him, and I came to the realisation later in my career that maybe it wasn’t the managers, maybe it was me.”

McManus admits that the bigger games brought out the best in him and those run of the mill Scottish Premier League matches did not rock his boat so much. He left Hibs permanently in 2005 and moved to Dundee before having two spells in America, two in Ireland and a number of other clubs received his services.

For a lad from Bishopbriggs, he got to see a lot of the world and his time in the States, first with Colorado Rapids and then Rochester Rhinos, was something he loved.

“The manager at Colorado was this Uruguayan guy, a real eccentric," McManus revealed. "He would turn up for training on a Harley Davidson, wearing a bandana and smoking fags.”

McManus was never great at holding his tongue as a player. It is why his blogs are so readable.

One recently revealed that Alex McLeish, “the best man-manager I had”, once took him to one side to drop him from a Scottish Cup Final, which eased the pain and was a lot better than when at Ayr United, and by that time a senior player, he got the bad news in front of his team-mates.

“The best managers who get to the top like big Alex don’t get there by fluke,” said McManus. “The thing which separates the good and bad is how they treat players. Alex was phenomenal when you were dropped. It wasn’t the same sting of sitting there, he flips a chart over and you are nowhere to be seen.

“At Ayr we were in a League Cup Final against Rangers. All it would have taken was the manager, Brian Reid, to take me aside for two minutes on my own to say, 'Tam, I’m dropping you. You’re going to Rochester and I am going to stick with the guys who will be here at the end of the season'.

“I would have shaken his hand and wished him good luck. But the fact it happened at Hampden and I expected to play was seriously hard to take.”

McManus has not spoken to Reid since. Not speaking is not something that comes easily to the man.

“I never cared what I said in the press,” he says with a laugh. “I would blurt out anything, especially when I was young. My folks still have newspaper cuttings and some of the stuff I was coming out with was cringe-worthy.

“I remember slaughtering Rainer Bonhof for not picking me for the Scotland Under-21s. He’d won a World Cup!”

Not that McManus was always treated well by the Fourth Estate. A Sunday tabloid reported, accurately it must be said, that the Hibs players had enjoyed a night out at a lap dancing bar. The world lurid was applied more than once.

“We got stitched up,” he insists. “We didn’t have a game that weekend, we all went out for a drink, went to a few pubs and ended up in what I would call a gentleman’s establishment. We were all single. Well most of us were. The headlines were outrageous.”

As was McManus’s celebration in the next game. “I scored a penalty in the last minute at Tannadice which won us the match and as a celebration I jumped on the pole behind the goal and spun around it,” he recalls with a grin.

“We got into the dressing room and the boys were laughing and really buzzing. Bobby Williamson was fuming and slaughtered me for 10 minutes. I look back now and I wish he had done it at another time. It did kill the buzz.”

Coaching is a possibility, he plans to take his A-Licence next summer, but for now he is enjoying his media work.

“If something has to be said I will say it,” said McManus, “The BBC have been great with me and I am paid to give an opinion. The best pundits, Chris Sutton and Michael Stewart, are honest and say what they see, and not in a nasty way.

“Would it be difficult to slaughter Scott Brown, who I’m still close to, well yes it probably would. But I’d still do it.”

With that the tape recorder is switched off and McManus regales me with stories which if repeated would earn me almost as many plaudits as it would lawsuits. He is still telling it straight and is all the better for it.