The retirement poser facing key Scotland player - 'it’s on you wee man'

Brown hopes his former team-mate McGregor does not rush into a call on international future

The similarities in their situations are striking. Both 31, both skippers of Celtic operating in the midfield hothouse and both hampered by injuries, probably related to the role they play or indeed played for their club side.

But Scott Brown hopes Callum McGregor does not do what he did and too hastily reaches a decision to draw a line under his Scotland career before a World Cup campaign, something Brown later reconsidered.

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Now Ayr United manager, he is sufficiently removed to cast a discerning eye over McGregor’s current predicament, as the Celtic skipper ponders what the future holds as he seeks to maintain his form and influence at the heart of the Parkhead side’s midfield.

Brown himself came to the conclusion that it would be in his interests to retire from international football with a World Cup qualification campaign on the horizon. 

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He quickly came to regret the decision, and overturned it in the Autumn of 2016, playing a further five times for Gordon Strachan’s team, including twice against England, as Scotland fell just short of a play-off place for Russia.   

“You were watching the games in the house, thinking: ‘Ach, I should really be there, I can still play but it might kill me later on’,” he recalled. 

Brown was unable to shake the feeling he could help out and so contacted Strachan. It was a temporary return. He retired from international football again and for good in February 2018, shortly after Alex McLeish took over for a second time as Scotland manager.

“I knew that my body was probably not going to make 50-60 games for the next couple of seasons,” Brown recalled. “I kept having to pull out of games and training and stuff. I think Callum is probably in a bit of a different situation. He has had a wee niggle with his Achilles obviously but he has managed to fight through that and the rest will have done him good as well, because he has plays a lot a lot of football.

“He is one that will keep burning, keep going and keep driving through and he sets the standards throughout the whole dressing room and the whole stadium to be fair - he is the driving force behind that whole club, him and Brendan (Rodgers). You don’t want to burn him out. We don’t want to lose him. At the same time he will see a World Cup and he will want to play obviously and show we can get to it. It’s a hard one….but it is on him. That’s the best advice I can give – it’s on you wee man!”

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“You always want to play for your country," Brown continued. "I just felt that every time I went away with Scotland I came back and I was slack for the next two or three games because all the other lads got a break and got a rest and got some recovery and I was turning out and turning out."

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Brown did subsequently reap the rewards of reducing the demands and led Celtic to another two trebles, although time eventually caught up with him at Aberdeen, where he moved to assist manager Stephen Glass. 

He cut short his time at Pittodrie in March 2022 and retired from football completely that summer. "I became a chauffeur for my kids!" he recalled.

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