Brendan Rodgers says Scott Brown’s retirement is ‘wise move’

Scott Brown plays his last match for Scotland, in the friendly win over Denmark at Hampden in March. Photograph: SNS

Scott Brown plays his last match for Scotland, in the friendly win over Denmark at Hampden in March. Photograph: SNS

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Whether he takes a seat in the stand or has an armchair view from the living room where he will now spend more time with his family, there are perhaps two occasions in the coming season when Scott Brown will most acutely miss the thrill of leading his country into action.

The visit of England to Hampden on 11 November and the return fixture at Wembley next June are the red letter days of a 2018 World Cup qualifying calendar which Brown has decided to step away from.

It was clearly not a career option the Celtic captain took lightly but his retirement from international football at the age of 31 has been warmly welcomed by his club manager Brendan Rodgers.

Had Brown chosen to remain committed to Scotland for another qualification cycle, Rodgers has no doubt there would have been a heavy price to pay for the midfielder.

“If you look at his situation right now, Scott has been back in training with Celtic since 
25 June,” said Rodgers. “So if he continued all the way through this season, his last game would be for Scotland against England on 10 June.

“Touch wood, Celtic are in the Champions League again next year and so we are back in again on 25 June to get ready for the qualifiers.

“So there is a consequence of that. These guys are not robots. They are athletes and footballers and human beings. Scott is a player who has been playing up to 60-odd games a season and in the latter stages of your life, that starts to have wear and tear on the body.

“What happens then is that Celtic don’t quite get the same player, because he will suffer and then Scotland doesn’t quite get the same player because he is suffering with injury. Then it is no good for anyone.

“Thankfully Scott, bless him, has looked at that and thought that there has got to be a bit of give somewhere. I think anyone who would look at it from that perspective would think that. He is unselfish too. Speaking to him, he wants Scotland to be the very best they can be. So it opens up the door for 
a younger guy to come in, to give that energy and give something else to Scotland.”

As much as he approves of Brown’s decision to call time on his international career after 50 caps, Rodgers insists he did not have any undue influence on it.

“I was fairly neutral,” added the former Liverpool manager. “I have worked with 
players in the past who have been in similar situations and it is a very tough decision for a player.

“Scott is very conscientious, he is a guy who has never not wanted to go with Scotland. You will get some players who will make excuses not to go on international duty but Scott is a guy who has always been very proud to represent his country.

“All I was was an ear for him and to give whatever advice I could. There are a lot of miles on the clock for a young player. He is 31 years of age and has probably felt that to juggle the two and to be at the best 
he possibly can be at this stage of his life, that there would need to be a sacrifice somewhere.

“I was obviously aware that the decision was coming. At this point in his career it is probably really sensible. He is a really proud Scottish man and has been very proud to play and lead his country.

“But probably for the first time in his life he has to think of himself and his body and the stage of his career that he is at. He is a very loyal man and it is a decision that has been tough for him. He is very close to Gordon Strachan and respects him and the influence that he has had on him – but thankfully Gordon understands it as well. Like I said, at this point in his career it is probably a wise decision.”

Having previously compared Brown with former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and then this week stated he could operate successfully in the English Premier League, Rodgers has made no secret 
of the high opinion he has quickly formed of his on-field lieutenant.

Their burgeoning relationship began with a close-season dinner date at Rodgers’ London home shortly after his appointment as manager. If first impressions last, then Brown’s was certainly positive.

“He walked through my gates and produced a bottle of wine, so it was a good start!” joked Rodgers.

“But I liked him straight away. I have been fortunate enough in my coaching career so far to have some really really
good captains. I go back to where I started at Watford with Jay DeMerit, then Swansea with Garry Monk, then Liverpool where it was Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

“Then I come to Celtic and inherit someone who is a good man. That is the first thing. If they still have the hunger, I 
like to see that early on, and he definitely had that.

“I wanted to see him work and I saw very quickly that he was influential and he would be perfect for how I wanted to play. He has enjoyed the different ideas and concepts that we have brought on. He has grasped everything and taken it on board. Hopefully he can be a player that still learns and develops.”

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