Brendan Rodgers hails Scott Brown as a Celtic '˜great'

Brendan Rodgers believes record-breaking Scott Brown will eventually shed his 'pantomime villain' reputation to become regarded as one of the greatest figures in Celtic's history.s

Celtic captain Scott Brown has been hailed by his manager Brendan Rodgers. Picture: Rob Casey/SNS

Brown will make his 69th Champions League appearance for Celtic tonight, taking him past the previous best of 68 games in Europe’s elite club competition by a Scottish 
player which was set by Kenny Dalglish.

Celtic manager Rodgers recognises that Brown’s public image is largely dominated by his often flippant off-the-field persona and intensely confrontational approach on the pitch.

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But Rodgers insists his captain has proved his critics wrong over the past 18 months and is far from finished in terms of building up a playing CV which will ultimately stand comparison with any of Celtic’s most iconic heroes.

“He’s a wee bit daft at times, laughing and joking and taking the p*** out of himself a wee bit,” said Rodgers.

“But don’t underestimate what he is achieving and what he has done in the game. Whenever the time comes, and it won’t be for a few years yet, he will go down as one of the great legends of this club. He is in the moment. He is still creating the legend and he still has a lot to achieve here. Like us all, really, it’s when you’re gone and your time has passed that’s when you get truly appreciated and I think that will be the case with him.

“It’s really nice that he is breaking Kenny’s record because I had enough people telling me when I came in here that his legs were gone, that he couldn’t run, and now I see him in big European and domestic games and he’s the real tactical engine of the team. He really dictates how we play, he’s the brain of the team. He is an absolutely brilliant player and he’s a credit in how he captains the club. He’s a real, real joy to work with.

“He’s like a pantomime villain when he goes on the pitch and that stirs people up. Luis Suarez was the same. The more you got after him, the better he was. You find that with the good players. Every ground we went to at Liverpool with Suarez he got absolutely slaughtered and he’d then score hat-tricks or doubles. Scott has that same real belief in his abilities. That edge that the really good players have, they are right on the edge. Scott has that and it doesn’t matter if it’s Ibrox or the Allianz Arena he performs.

“He has a great attitude. He is an outstanding player, temperament-wise I have been really impressed by him. He’s had only one incident [of indiscipline] since I came to the club, which was away at Ross County. Apart from that he’s played as I expected him to play with a real high level of tactical discipline in games. He is a player of dominance and in the big teams you need a number of those and he is certainly the player of dominance for us.”

Celtic will finish third in Group B of the Champions League if they avoid a 3-0 defeat or worse at home to Anderlecht tonight with a place in next week’s draw for the last 32 of the Europa League at stake.

Having been fourth seeds in the draw, Rodgers believes it will represent a telling achievement for Celtic. Recent comments from Anderlecht legend Paul van Himst, who criticised his former club for losing 3-0 at home to what he described as the “peasants and woodcutters” of Celtic, did not escape Rodgers’ notice.

“It didn’t annoy me,” he said. “I think it just shows you the level that maybe Anderlecht thought we were at and where they thought they were at.

“We are the peasants. But what we are is very rich in history and values as a club. For us as a team we are in the fourth pot for a reason. So the expectancy was probably for the top two teams to go through and Anderlecht to go into the Europa League. For us, if we can finish with four or six points, it would be a great sign of progress for us from last year and also another step forward

for us.”