Scott Brown: The pep talk that kept my career on track

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The Broony – Captain, Leader, Legend DVD Scott Brown faced the media to promote yesterday will document the 34-year-old’s extraordinary 12-and-a-half years at Celtic. Yet, the fact it is narrated by Martin Compston, pictured below, and includes a contribution from Rod Stewart leads the midfielder to 
conclude that it shouldn’t be filed under factual. Brown, forever keen to play up an image of himself as an unreconstructed Fifer, considers the brushes with celebrity afforded him have made his professional existence “a fairytale”.

Certainly, there have been magical moments aplenty for a man who has worn his club’s armband for just short of a decade, led them to treble treble success as part of run of eight straight titles, and amassed 19 winners’ medals. Brown, typically though, delights in the mad ones too. His first interaction with a global rock superstar brings particular glee.

“The best story I’ve got about him is when we were playing an away game in Europe and I was injured or suspended,” Brown said. “Rod was sitting behind us and I was walking in with the lads. I sat down a wee bit shocked, I didn’t want to be the one to say ‘Rod any chance of a selfie’. But he tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Brownie, I’m Rod Stewart,’’ you know, just in case I didn’t know. I felt like saying ‘you’re my hero.’”

“It is just stuff like that you never thought would happen. People like Rod Stewart coming up to you and knowing who you are rather than the other way round. Growing up, with my mum and dad listening to Rod Stewart and you getting the opportunity to meet him. I have met him loads of times at the park and he is a great guy.”

It is a similar story with Compston, one of the most recognisable actors in British television thanks to his lead role in hugely successful crime 
drama Line of Duty.

“I got him in the dressing room, after the treble treble cup final [in May]. He came in and he was buzzing to meet all the lads. He was like ‘lads, it’s Martin, get in the picture’. No, he was totally buzzing, things like that, meeting people you never thought you would meet.

“I played against him as well, in one of the legends matches, the [Henrik] Larsson and Lubo [Moravcik] game I think. We went out afterwards. This guy is on telly everyday and he is coming along to support me.”

It is the support of, and faith shown by, certain key football figures that Brown considers instrumental in a longevity that, after coming mighty close to leaving for Australia this year, means he doesn’t rule out playing until his late 30s.

Yet, in his early years following a £4.4 million move from Hibernian, it seemed doubtful that a hair-trigger temperament would allow him to still be central to the club in his late 20s.

“When I became captain at the age of 24, I think [then Celtic manager] Tony Mowbray offered it to everyone else first and then felt sorry for me. That was probably the best thing he ever did for me because that extra responsibility calmed me down a 
little bit.”

Many, though, believed Brown was rapidly going downhill when he looked desperately heavy-legged as Andy Halliday bossed him during Rangers’ 
penalty shootout Scottish Cup semi-final victory in April 2016.

The next week Celtic manager Ronny Deila announced he would be leaving that summer and plenty wondered what sort of future there would be for the then 30-year-old in a new era for the club. That new era, however, has found him to the fore as the club have hoovered up every one of the nine major domestic trophies in the past three years.

He credits a pep talk from Gordon Strachan, pictured, who played until the age of 40, for not giving in to the notion that age had permanently diminished him, with incoming manager Brendan Rodgers 
then reiterating Strachan’s 
message.

“There have been a lot of people writing me off and I manage just to keep coming back. Brendan Rodgers was great for me when he came in. But before that I had sat down with Gordon, who came to my house just as Ronny was just leaving. He said: “What’s up, wee man? Why don’t you go and give it another go, work as hard as I you can for the next couple of months and make sure you come back from pre-season flying. If the legs have gone, you’ll find out. If not, come back and make sure you do what you do”.

“Gordon wasn’t my 
manager at the time, obviously, but when people like him convince you you can go on, and take the time to tell you that, it stops you feeling sorry for yourself... and the next season I played in every game as we 
won the league again.

“It’s also down to personal pride, because I want to make sure I can put in the same kind of 
performances I did when I was in my mid-20s.”