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BROONY HITS BACK: ‘WE’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE CHALLENGE’

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SCOTT BROWN has revealed the twin secrets of Celtic’s success – staying power and winning mentality.

The Hoops skipper is well aware of extravagant boasts and persistent talk of title challenges from elsewhere.

The importance of derailing the Parkhead juggernaut is obviously paramount to the opposition as Brown and Co look to emulate Jock Stein’s great teams of the mid-sixties into the seventies that dominated the country and won nine successive league titles.

Coming off the back of the phenomenal treble treble campaign, the champions have lost none of their hunger or ambition as they aim for another silverware clean sweep while making an impact in Europe following last term’s massive and costly disappointment.

Amid the almost-hysterical chat of dethroning Neil Lennon’s men, Brown remains calm.

SPELLBOUND…Scott Brown salutes the Celtic fans.

The team’s onfield leader, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “I’ve heard it all before. Every season. It’s part and parcel of Scottish football.

“Everyone wants to challenge us, but we are champions for a reason. We have the staying power to keep improving season after season.

“Winning the league is the main thing for us. The Cups have been fantastic these last few seasons.

“We will be focused this year again and we’re looking forward to the challenge.

”We are not speaking about another treble yet. That’s a year down the line.

“Right now we are concentrating on getting fit and the Champions League qualifiers. It’s a long season, but I’m sure we have the players to kick on in the league again and there’s the League Cup before the end of the year.

“But those are the focus right now.”

Brown, who has won a remarkable 19 honours in his 12 years in the east end of Glasgow, continued: “There’s never a normal season here. Everyone wants us to win whether it’s a friendly or a Cup Final.

“That is the expectation levels at Celtic Football Club and it’s gone through the roof this last three years.

“We have to keep pushing the boundaries as far as we can.

“The hard work continues. That’s never changed. It was hard work as a 17-year-old at Hibs, it’s the same at 34 and going for nine-in-a-row.

“It’s pressure we are used to and we know everyone is getting stronger and trying to catch us.

“We will work even harder. We’ll bring in some fresh faces and there are young lads coming through as well.”

Celtic are preparing for the rigours of the new campaign and last week splashed £7million on Toulouse’s towering centre-back Christoper Jullien while other new faces are being lined up before the summer transfer window closes at the end of next month.

THE CUP THAT CHEERS…Neil Lennon after the Hampden success over Hearts in May.

Brown and James Forrest are the only survivors from the start of the glorious championship-winning sequence and the former Scotland international paid tribute to boss Neil Lennon who had to hit the ground running when he returned to the club in February.

He said: “The boss is someone who loves the club and thrives off the atmosphere around us.

“He expects us to win games no matter what and he makes sure everyone knows what the title and nine-in-row means to the fans.

“He gets it through to players, then there are guys like me and Jamesie who have been here from the start and we want to push that legacy as far as we can.”

The Hoops will take another step towards the opening Champions League qualifier against FK Sarajevo in Bosnia a week tonight when they face Swiss top-flight side St Gallen this evening.

New Bhoy Jullien is likely to make his debut and Brown reckoned the players are already ahead of the game in terms of fitness.

He added: “Everyone is in good shape. The manager, Damien Duff and John Kennedy have said how much everyone has looked after themselves.

“Sometimes you can lose fitness quickly, even during short time off, but we’ve hit peak numbers already ahead of this time last year.”

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