So has the former captain, now cutting his teeth in the management game with English League One side Fleetwood Town. Yet the unsentimental Brown will allow himself to wallow in his life and times at Parkhead when, along with friend and former team-mate Mikael Lustig, the pair are the subjects of a special evening at the SECC on May 18. An event that will be for the benefit of the Celtic Charity Foundation and allow the duo closure over offering their thanks to a support the 37-year-old says stuck by them “through thick and thin”. With the covid pandemic preventing them expressing their gratitude in front of the fans as they headed for pastures new, Brown is chuffed at the chance to now do that “instead of sending out messages on Instagram or Twitter”.
The Ange Postecoglou revolution – “he has them playing some great football,” said Brown – has ushered in a very different Celtic team from the, at times, in-your-face sides within which he and Lustig proved central characters. The former Scottish international was a waspish, wind-up merchant by trade, treating the pitch as a battlefield in which opponents were sworn enemies to be belittled, bested and beaten. It amuses him, then, that the man who has inherited his No 8 shirt, a certain Kyogo Furuhashi, could hardly be more antithetical in his approach. The Japanese scoring phenomenon remains mannerly and gracious whatever the white-hot nature of the fray, even as he mauls rivals with his perpetual movement and penalty-box prowess.
‘You can see wee Kyogo has a smile on his face everywhere he goes,” said Brown. “He helps people up after he tackles them. He’s picking up litter after games and stuff like that. He’s just a lovely, lovely lad. To be perfectly honest, there is no better person that could steal my number from me. It goes from one way to another. I wouldn’t have helped anyone up … but he’s willing to help anybody up, which shows you there is no right way and no wrong way to play football and win games.”
Brown doesn’t deny that he wishes he was still winning games with his warrior ways, as opposed to the coaching nous now required. Asked if he missed the derby dust-ups as another has just been added to this campaign through Scotland’s two tribes meeting in the Scottish Cup semi-final next month, he said: ‘I miss playing football. I loved every single moment at Hibs, Celtic and Aberdeen. I really enjoyed playing football, keeping fit, working hard and I enjoyed going onto the park looking to win. And hopefully I wanted to win more than the guy I was competing against.”
Brown often wanted to rub opponents’ noses in it whenever he was making his presence count. His least Furuhashi-like moment came when he celebrated right in front of El Hadji Diouff after netting the equaliser in a 2-2 Scottish Cup draw against Rangers at Ibrox in 2011. His outstretched arms goading of the intemperate Senegalese striker not only helped cement the Celtic support’s affection for him. The eponymous gesture became known as ‘the Broony’. “It couldn’t have worked out any better, him standing there. To this day it’s the best yellow card I’ve had in my life…” said a man now a mature and measured manager. “I see Celtic fans in the street when I get back home. They are always lovely, they always want to speak about when I played and what the team’s like now.”