‘It’s about enjoying my last couple of years of football’ – Scott Brown braced for the end game

Celtic captain Scott Brown.Celtic captain Scott Brown.
Celtic captain Scott Brown.
Scott Brown could win his 18th major Celtic honour this afternoon as the Parkhead side look to clinch the title against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. And there is little danger that familiarity will breed contempt in the mind of the Celtic captain.

If Brown’s trophy cabinet is in danger of groaning under the weight of silverware, there is an appreciation by the 33-year-old to savour each and every moment now as his career begins to move into the final furlong.

“I’m enjoying every single game more,” said the midfielder. “Knowing I am coming towards the end of my career does that. To be playing, whether it’s games in training or games in front of 60,000 people, is important.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’m playing with a smile on my face. I’m more relaxed when it comes to keeping the ball. If I score a goal I score a goal. If someone else scores the goal and we win I’m delighted. It’s not about me scoring my goals. Every game now is just about helping my team-mates out and savouring things more.

“There are memories now that will always stay with me. It’s about enjoying my last couple of years of football and then seeing where I go from there.”

There was a flippancy about Brown when he remarked that he hopes “it’s a bit sunnier than usual and the pitch is nice” as he referenced today’s meeting between the sides, but Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes will not need to look too hard to gee up his own players as they seek to prevent a title party on their own turf as Celtic chase the point they need to clinch the league.

There is a lingering sour taste, too, from the Scottish Cup semi-final last month. McInnes will serve a one-game suspension today, a sanction handed out following his reaction to sectarian singing by a section of the Celtic support at Hampden.

This game is the sixth meeting between the teams this season. Aberdeen have taken one point from the previous three league games and have lost twice to Celtic in the League Cup final and the Scottish Cup. If the portents do not augur well for the Pittodrie side, Brown is wary, publicly at least, of seeing this afternoon as little more than a formality.

“Aberdeen has always been a hard game over the last four or five seasons when they’ve been challenging us all the way for the title,” he said. “Going up there has always been a hard place to go.”

There has been a sense that the final steps towards the finish line these past few weeks have been more prolonged than they needed to be but Brown’s focus is simply on getting there. The manner of results has raised questions among the Celtic support about Neil Lennon’s suitability to take the job on permanently this summer but Brown has no such concerns.

“It’s been a tough run and it’s been tough for the gaffer coming in as well after Brendan [Rodgers],” he said. “He has dive-bombed into the deep end with two feet. He enjoys being back with the lads and back at Celtic Park, I think.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Everyone loves him in the Lennoxtown dressing room and at Celtic Park. He has been a great man for the job so far.

“He just wants us to get over the line, whether we win at Aberdeen or wherever. We just want to get over the line as quick as possible and do it for him as well.

“Brendan was Brendan. He was very good at what he did. Neil is very good at what he does as well and he has just tried to keep everything running along the same lines as Brendan. He has kept the same style and shape as Brendan had. We have been playing games, winning games and not conceded a lot of goals. I think it’s three since we came back from Dubai. We have tightened things at the back and we look as if we are going to score a few goals as well. We just need to make sure we put it all together.”

Brown also paid his formal respects yesterdays to Billy McNeill following the funeral for the former Celtic captain. His death was followed by the loss of fellow Lisbon Lion Stevie Chalmers this week, with the midfielder acknowledging their presence at the club.

“For me it’s a sad, sad week for the club,” reflected Brown. “Two of the Lions have left us at the same time. I actually spoke to big Billy quite a lot in my time here.

“Stevie not as much, but he was a genuine guy and a lovely man. Billy was always there. There to give you advice and speak to you and chat to you. He was huge as a man in every sense. He was enormous and you can imagine in his heyday how everyone else felt.

“He was a very powerful, influential man at this club and a great ambassador. He is beyond everyone’s position at this club. Billy will go down as the biggest hero ever and rightly so.”