“To be fair, he should have a statue at this rate,” said Brown, who described himself as “devastated” by the impending departure of Celtic’s chief executive of 17 years, who it has been announced will give way to Dominic McKay come July. ‘His legacy is huge. It is winning trophies, building Lennoxtown, nine in a row, the quadruple treble, he’s been fantastic for the players as well. It’s up to other people how they think about him. Peter knows what he’s done here, things like building an unbelievable training facility, making sure we have 60,000 fans coming in every week, things like having the standing section.
“He’s brought in some great players over the years and some unbelievable managers. I remember there were 12,000 fans at Celtic Park when Brendan Rodgers came in. Peter’s always wanted the best for the club. He’s won 29 trophies in his 17 years here – which is incredible for anyone to have on their CV when they retire. It’s just sad to see him go after all he’s done for me and the rest of the lads. This club is his life, he’s here day in day out and loved every single moment of it. He was definitely a fan in the boardroom. He supported us through thick and thin. He always knew there would be ups and downs and bumps along the way.”
Brown puts his own longevity at a Celtic he joined in a £4.4million deal from Hibs in the summer of 2007 down to Lawwell’s influence. “He gave me the opportunity, along with Gordon Strachan and Tommy Burns, to play at Celtic Park,” said the 35-year-old. “He offered me a new deal once they left, which some might not have done. When I first met him we left other people to talk money. That wasn’t my job. My job is to perform on the pitch. But Peter told me all about Celtic, it being a family club, how I’d love playing in front of the fans, what it means to him and his family and how we were going to grow going forward.”
And Brown has never forgotten how Lawwell was there for him during the darkest of days away from football, the midfielder losing his sister to cancer in 2008. “He’s been huge for me, personally. Because I’ve had a few family issues – and Peter was always the first to pick up the phone. When there were hard times, he always picked up the phone to make sure I was OK,” said Brown. ‘He would take the opportunity to drive through and see me. Or I could always drive through to speak to him. He was always there. A little text message here and there. It was fantastic. I probably wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for Peter.”