Gordon Strachan ‘left door open’ for Scott Brown U-turn

Scott Brown announced his retirement on Friday. Picture: John Devlin

Scott Brown announced his retirement on Friday. Picture: John Devlin

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Scott Brown has revealed Gordon Strachan has left the door open for him to return to the Scotland squad.

But the Celtic captain, who last week announced his retirement from international football in order to focus more on his club and family commitments, fully expects his 50th cap he earned against Denmark in March to remain his last.

Speaking publicly for the first time about his decision, Brown admitted he was fearful of informing Scotland manager Strachan he would no longer be available for selection ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifying 
campaign.

The 31-year-old, who tonight hopes to lead Celtic into the Champions League group stage as they take a 5-2 lead into the second leg of their play-off round tie against Hapoel Beer-Sheva in Israel, was gratified by Strachan’s response and is content he has made the right career choice.

“Gordon did say the door was always open and you can never say never,” said Brown. “But it’s not a possibility in my mind.

“The game against Denmark will be my last game for Scotland.

“It’s sad for me but in my mind all I am thinking about is prolonging my Celtic career. What if there’s an injury crisis for Scotland? What, with the 20 midfielders we have? I think they’ll be okay, but you never know.

“I tried to call Gordon about eight times to tell him my decision but I kept pushing that red button on my phone.

“I was thinking, ‘oh s***, what’s he going to say? Is he going to go off on one?’

“As soon as I managed to make the call I told him what I was thinking and he understood my decision 100 percent.

“He said, ‘I’ll miss you but you have to focus on yourself and what you need to do and try to push on as long as you can’.

“He didn’t try to talk me out of it. He knows I am a very stubborn person when my mind is made up.

“The big thing for me quitting Scotland is it’s probably put another couple of years on my Celtic career.

“I’ve got two years left on my deal right now and the way I feel I can see myself at Celtic until I am 35 or 36 – maybe even longer.

“If I continued playing with Scotland it would maybe not drain me, but it would have an impact on my performances for Celtic. The seasons are getting longer each year. A couple of years ago we only had two weeks off – if you can call it that, because you never switch off.

“You’ve got Scotland games on the 9th or 10th of June and then you’re back with Celtic for the Champions League qualifiers a few weeks later. It’s incredible for any player.

“The seasons are getting longer but it’s not like my career is getting longer, especially if I kept that up. I think it was a wise decision. I can focus just on Celtic now.

“It was after the game away to Gibraltar at the end of the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign that I first thought about. These things start to play in your head – do I retire now or do I do one more campaign?

“To be fair, a couple of months back I was probably pushing towards doing another campaign. But then I knew my mind was made up, having had a five-week break this summer and feeling the best I’ve felt in a couple of years.

“I know it’s going to be better for me, it will prolong my career – and sometimes you’ve got to look out for number one.”

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