SCOTT BROWN is overjoyed his successor at Celtic, Callum McGregor, will realise his dream as the season comes to a thrilling and extraordinary climax.
A win over Hearts in today’s noon confrontation with Hearts at Parkhead will move Ange Postecoglou’s men nine points ahead in the club’s remarkable pursuit of the Premiership crown.
This time last season, the Hoops were stumbling over the finishing line an inexplicable 25 points off the pace as the quest for a historic tenth successive title.
IT TAKES TWO…Scott Brown and Callum McGregor celebrate Celtic’s 1-0 League Cup Final success over Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox outfit in December 2019.
It was a sad farewell for Brown who had been in pole position in the glorious nine years before hand and, in fact, had picked up a tenth winner’s medal in 2008 after Gordon Strachan had paid Hibs a record fee of £4.4million for the combative middle-of-the-park performer.
Now McGregor, who accepted the responsibility of taking the captain’s armband in the summer following the departure of his close friend and ally to Aberdeen, is preparing for his crowning glory, his first title since being named the team’s onfield leader.
Brown said: “I know how much it will mean to Cal when he walks out there to lift that trophy. It’s what he’s dreamt of doing since he was a kid.
“I know he’s had his hands on it before, but he’s not been up there alone on that podium, lifting it by himself. Trust me, it’s a very special feeling.
JOY BHOYS…Scott Brown parades the League Cup with Callum McGregor, Ryan Christie and Kristoffer Ajer joining in the celebrations.
“The best thing about it is the lads in that dressing room will be delighted for him and his family because that’s the level of respect he commands throughout the club.”
There were those who wondered how McGregor would fare in his elevated position, but Brown, speaking to the Daily Record, commented: “I honestly never had any doubts.
“Look, football is all about how hard you work in training, how hard you work in the gym and how you look after your body.
“A lot of younger players take all that for granted, but Cal had that mindset right from the start.
“He wants to come first at running, he wants to be the quickest over the short-distance sprints, he wants to have the most touches during the game, he wants to cover more ground and run bigger distances than anyone else on the pitch.
FLAG HAPPY…Callum McGregor and Scott Brown are all smiles after Celtic’s title success in 2016.
“He studies his own stats and he wants to better them all the time.
“When other players see someone like that it makes them strive to improve too and drive their own stats up. It rubs off on everyone.
“That’s what you get when you have good people around your club and you have to keep a hold of them because they are priceless.
“That’s why Cal was always destined to become a successful Celtic captain.”
Brown added: “Yes, this season was always going to be a hard one for him, but he’s been absolutely flying since the start.
“I watch him and I see a guy who is rallying his troops and that’s what a good captain has to do.
“You have to lead from the front and set an example and that’s what he does every single day.
“There have been times this season when Celtic have been struggling, but Callum has been the one demanding the ball and driving them forward.
“That’s exactly what Celtic need as a captain.
FOLLOW THE LEADER…Callum McGregor takes to the Celtic Park pitch with keeper Joe Hart and team-mates behind him.
“There have been a lot of changes in personnel, so they needed a Scottish guy who knows the club and loves the club to bring it all together.
“He’s at the core of it all.
“There have been a lot of changes, but he’s been through the whole transformation like an absolute rock.”
McGregor picked up his first honour as Celtic captain in December after the 2-1 success over Hibs in the Premier Sports League Cup Final at Hampden when Kyogo Furuhashi took the headlines with a two-goal second-half salvo.
The title silverware is on its way. It’s only a matter of time.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Hearts at Parkhead this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.