LEIGH GRIFFITHS has acclaimed Celtic warrior Scott Brown as “unbelievable” and a “born winner”.
The 35-year-old Hoops skipper drove the team to their truly remarkable world record of a quadruple treble in the dramatic Scottish Cup Final penalty-kick shoot-out success over Hearts at Hampden on Sunday.
It was Brown, winning his TWENTY-SECOND medal in a glittering career at Parkhead since arriving 13 years ago from Hibs, who was relentless during his 105 minutes on the pitch before being forced off with a groin straight at the second period of added-on time.
Griffiths, five years the junior of his all-action onfield leader, was in awe of the midfielder who launched himself at a right-wing corner-kick to thump in a header that led to his goal, the Hoops’ third to go 3-2 in front, as the veteran drew on resources before having to withdraw.
When it comes to gathering men alongside you when a battle lies ahead, the Scotland international hitman would unhesitatingly select Brown as his first pick.
Griffiths, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “He’s a huge influence. For my goal, I was wondering what the hell he was doing in the box! He’s normally way back.
“Listen, for all the accolades he gets, they’re all earned. All totally justified.
“Yeah, he’s had a little bit of stick, but I don’t think it’s been justified.
“He’s a serial winner, a born leader, he’s in that dressing room every single day, driving the boys on, making sure they’re 100 per cent at it.
TREBLE YELL…Leigh Griffiths turns away after scoring the third goal against Hearts with Christopher Jullien ready to join the celebrations.
KNEESY DOES IT…Leigh Griffiths slides in celebration.
HAMPDEN ROAR…Leigh Griffiths lets rip with joy.
“I had seen comments about would he or wouldn’t he start? Would Ismaila Soro get a start in the Cup Final?
“The performance he put in against Hearts was unbelievable. He was our leader. If you look back on all the Scottish Cup Finals we’ve played, he’s probably been Man of the Match in about 75 per cent of them.
“That is exactly what you need from your captain. He’s a born leader, a born winner and I’m delighted that he’s my captain.”
Griffiths admitted there is still a lot of mileage in the legs of his captain.
He commented: “I think it (criticism) spurs him on. I think he actually buzzes over that.
“Listen he’s getting older, so I think he maybe needs to be more wise about what games he plays now. I think the gaffer has realised that now, as well.
“But the big games, he needs to play in those for us. In my opinion, anyway.
“You saw again at Hampden, he bossed a Scottish Cup Final, played a big part in my goal and I was delighted to see him get his hands on the trophy again. It was great to be going there with him.”
Now the focus switches back to the Premiership and the unrelenting quest for 10 in a row when Ross County, with ex-Celt John Hughes newly named as manager, visit Parkhead tomorrow night.
WEIGHT FOR IT…Shane Duffy, Scott Brown and Greg Taylor share anxious looks at the penalty-kick shoot-out.
Scotland’s title kings have slipped 16 points adrift of Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox side although they have three games – and a potential nine points – in hand.
The last time the Highlanders were in Glasgow was last month when they knocked the holders out of the Betfred League Cup, a results which sparked angry scenes from supporters outside the stadium.
Griffiths added: “You need that winning mentality, especially when performances haven’t been great.
“Of course, it hurts us, as players, to see fans outside of Celtic Park protesting because it wasn’t that long ago that those fans were cheering us on for winning the treble treble.
“Yeah, results this season haven’t been great. But we have to stick with it. The comments and stick we’ve been taking has been OTT at times. But, hopefully, that’s us turned the corner.
“We’ve got a good run of games now where we should be picking up three points from all of them. We know teams will come and make it hard for us. So, we need to be in the right frame of mind.”