LISBON LION Bertie Auld wished Scott Brown a happy 33rd birthday today – and insisted he has many years left in the tank.
The former midfield mastermind in Jock Stein’s great Celtic teams from the the mid-sixties onwards reckons the dynamic skipper can carry on leading by example.
Auld, now 80, said: “Broony has been phenomenal in the last few seasons, easily one of the side’s most consistent performers.
CHEERS…Celtic legend Bertie Auld enjoys the team’s Scottish Cup success over Motherwell last season.
He has got better with age. There were a few who doubted him a couple of years ago before Brendan Rodgers arrived. Obviously, Broony was battling through injury in Ronny Deila’s last year in charge.
“He didn’t do himself justice, but he was will willing to fight through the pain barrier for the club and that tells you all you need to know about the man’s qualities and his never-say-die spirit.
“A lot of players would have called off, but he kept on going. Ronny Deila and his team-mates needed him to drive them over the line as they were going for the fifth successive title and he was going to stand up and be counted.
“However, he made those who had written him off look foolish with his response in the past two years under Brendan. He has been immense and deserves every bit of praise that has come his way.
“There is little doubt the lad relishes a challenge. There were a few meaty – for the want of a better word – challenges on him during the campaign, but he was still there to tell the tale in May as he led the team to a second successive treble.
“What a magnificent feat that was. The Celtic team I was in just missed that achievement after we had swept the boards in season 1966/67.
BHOY BLUE…Scott Brown in action for Scotland.
“As the famous old BBC commentator David Coleman said at the time: ‘Celtic would probably have won the Grand National and the Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race, too, if they has entered.’
“But we lost a Scottish Cup-tie against Dunfermline at Parkhead the following term – you don’t want me to talk about referee Bobby Davidson’s performance that afternoon – and that scuppered our chances of a second treble on the bounce.
“We did it the following season, but that one defeat derailed our chances of going into the history books.
“However, fair play to Brendan Rodgers and Scott Brown last time around. Not only did they achieve the silverware clean sweep, they did it in style.
“Look at the four Cup Finals they have played in over the past two years, for instance.
“Aberdeen were definitely up for it in Brendan’s debut stint. They made a lot of noises before the League Cup Final, but Celtic coasted to a 3-0 win.
“At the end of the programme, the Dons were back in Glasgow and were making all sorts of threatening noises before the Scottish Cup Final. They even took the lead through Jonny Hayes, but Celtic, with Broony in control, came right back and won 2-1.
CRUNCH…Brown challenges Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
“This time around, it was Motherwell in both Cup Finals. They thumped the team from Ibrox in the semi-final and promised to make things difficult in the League Cup Final.
“To be fair to the Well boys, they did put in a good shift on the day, but they weren’t good enough to prevent my old club from winning 2-0.
“They swept away Aberdeen 3-0 in the Scottish Cup semi-final and once again there were a lot of threatening noises from Fir Park before the big day at the national stadium. Outcome? Celtic 2-0 victors again.
“So, four Cup Finals, nine goals scored and one conceded. That’s the sort of statistic that brings in the trophies.
“And Scott Brown has been pivotal to all that has been happening out on the pitch. There is little doubt the manager and the skipper are singing from the same hymn sheet,
“In my day, we had that with Billy McNeill and Jock Stein and, of course, it is a crucial element in bringing success to the club. It means there is no divide from the manager’s office to the football pitch and, believe me, that is vitally important.”
Auld, who won 13 medals in a glittering Hoops career including, of course, the European Cup, added: “I look at Broony at the age of 33 and I see he has so much in front of him, so much more to achieve.
JOY BHOY…the Celtic skipper enjoys Celtic’s Scottish Cup triumph last season. Pics: Geo.
“I celebrated my 33rd birthday as a Celtic player, but two months later I was on my way.
“My last game for the club that has always been closest to my heart came in a 6-1 win over Clyde at Parkhead on May 1 1971.
“It was a strange afternoon, realising I had kicked my last ball for the club. I can’t complain, though.
“I returned from Birmingham City in January 1965 and I couldn’t have believed what was about to happen over the next incredible six years.
“I was immensely proud to have played my part in the team’s success. It was a marvellous time to be a Celtic player.
“And I’m sure those sentiments will be echoed by Birthday Bhoy Broony today.”