As Scott Brown’s debut season with Celtic progressed, had you told him he would go on to become a club legend, he likely would have doubted you.
On Thursday, it was announced the 35-year-old midfielder and captain would join Aberdeen in the summer in a player-coach role after 14 years at Celtic Park. Brown has won ten Scottish Premiership titles with the Bhoys, captaining the club to nine in a row and a world-first quadruple treble, as well as lifting the Scottish Cup on six occasions and the Scottish League Cup the same number of times. No other player, too, has made more Celtic appearances in Europe.
He will leave an icon but has previously admitted his first twelve months with the club were tough to say the least. Signing for Gordon Strachan’s side from Hibernian in the summer of 2007 for a record £4.4million, one of his first tasks in the green and white was to prove he didn’t have a Rangers tattoo after rumours swirled around Glasgow ahead of his unveiling.
“When I was walking out the front with my baggy jeans and baggy strip on, thinking that was fashionable at the time, I walked out the front and there was a few of the Celtic fans shouting, ‘You’ve got a Rangers tattoo on your calf’” the skipper told CelticTV in a 2018 interview.
“Gordon or somebody comes and said to me, ‘Tell me you’ve not got a tattoo on your calf!’
“I was like ‘No, no!’ He said, ‘Show them, show them!’ So I ended up having to show them two calves! How times have changed.”
First test: passed. Playing for one of the biggest clubs in Scotland, you need to win the supporters over quickly. Job done. However, after pouring cold water on such gossip, Brown revealed doing the business on the pitch was a massive challenge.
“Probably me and the Celtic fans didn’t have the best start with me getting booked, getting suspended quite a lot and not being sure whether I was an attacking midfielder, holding midfielder, right midfielder,” he admitted. “The first season was kind of hard. The second season I’ve got player of the year and grown into the club a bit as well.
"Everyone knows the first season at Celtic is extremely hard. You’ve got to have a lot of patience, you’ve got to come into the team, be brave on the ball and want to win. I’ve got that willingness to win every game and from there I’ve kind of blossomed more playing for Celtic.”
"Now me and the Celtic fans, we’re very tight and they’ve got so much appreciation for myself and I’ve got so much for them.”
Boy did he turn things around. In the Bhoys history books, Brown’s beaming smile lifting yet another trophy will fill plenty of pages. Tough-tackling, ferocious and a huge leader on and off the pitch, he will be a huge loss. This season may have not gone to plan but Brown will go down in history as one of the club’s finest players of the 21st century.
Celtic CEO Peter Lawwell insisted the club did everything they could to make Brown stay before he decided to join former Hibs team-mate Stephen Glass at Pittodrie.
“It goes without saying that we were desperately trying to keep Scott at the club, but while of course we are very saddened by his decision, we understand and respect it fully and wish Scott and his family nothing but success, health and happiness for the future,” he told The Scottish Sun.
"Scott Brown has been the heartbeat of Celtic for so long and without doubt, the most influential figure in the Scottish game across the past 15 years.
“With more than 600 appearances for the club, he has made an imprint on Celtic which puts him in the company of our other true greats - and with a legacy to match.
“When he chose Celtic over others, we were of course delighted. We knew we were getting one of the country’s finest talents and he in turn a chance to take to the stage and be part of Scotland’s biggest club.
Speaking on Thursday, Brown, who scored 46 goals in 612 appearances for Celtic, told the club’s website, "It is a huge decision to leave this magnificent club, which has been such a massive part of my life for so long, but this is a new opportunity for me and a new chapter.
"Celtic will never leave me and the club will forever be in my heart."
Scott Brown will remain in the heart of every Celtic fan too.