Scott Brown has hinted he would be open to making a dramatic return to the Scotland squad for the Euro 2020 play-offs in March.
The Celtic captain, who has previously retired twice from international duty, insists he would “never say never” to the prospect of playing for his country again as they bid to reach next summer’s Euro 2020 finals.
Brown, who won the last of his 55 caps just over two years ago, will celebrate his 35th birthday next June when Scotland hope to end their 22-year absence from a major tournament finals.
The midfielder initially stepped away from international football in August 2016, citing the need to give himself the best opportunity to extend his club career, but overturned that decision only two months later.
After Scotland’s failure to reach the 2018 World Cup finals and the dismissal of Gordon Strachan as manager, Brown announced he was retiring again.
He has subsequently continued to perform at a high level on a consistent basis for Celtic, the Scottish champions rewarding him with a new contract which runs until 2021.
Scotland will discover their play-off opponents at a Uefa draw this morning and Brown has not ruled out making another U-turn if asked to do so by international head coach Steve Clarke.
“Football’s a funny game and you never know,” said Brown. “I’m in a good place fitness-wise and in terms of my body and I make sure I keep myself ticking over. The international breaks have been incredible for me since I retired from Scotland – they’ve allowed me to go away and relax, play golf and recharge my batteries.
“That’s been good for me and I don’t want to be that guy who keeps quitting and then thinking he can come back. I’m going to be 35 soon and we’re very strong in the middle of the park – there’s a lot of young lads in that area.
“It’s been hard for me to watch the Scotland games, because you always want to be playing in them but, at the end of the day, I need to look after number one.
“My wish is that I could still be playing for Celtic and Scotland at the age of 45 but there comes a time when you have to make sure your body’s OK and give yourself the best chance of continuing to play for your club.”
Pressed on whether the opportunity to play at next summer’s finals would be a major temptation to pull on a Scotland jersey again, Brown admitted it remains the biggest unfulfilled ambition of his career.
“Listen, there are still two play-off games to get through, but you never say never,” he replied. “It would be phenomenal for the country to get to a finals after 22 years. I remember watching the games from France 98 as a kid – my mum had put flags in the windows and on our street. It’s a regret of mine that I never managed to get there with Scotland.”