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English riches not all they are cracked up to be . . .

THREE straight titles, two Scottish Cups and two visits to the promised land of the Champions League group stages with one extended sojourn to the last 16.

Scott Brown celebrates with his manager after winning the SPFL Premiership title last month. Picture: SNS
Scott Brown celebrates with his manager after winning the SPFL Premiership title last month. Picture: SNS

Were Neil Lennon to decide enough is enough at Celtic and seek out new challenges elsewhere, his legacy would already be secured. When even his own chief executive, Peter Lawwell, admits the SPFL Premiership has a serious problem in terms of delivering meaningful games, it is easy to question the degree of true fulfilment the 42-year-old gains from proving, in technicolour, how much of a one-horse race our showpiece division has become since Rangers departed for the knackers yard.

Appearances, albeit ones that involve saying all the right things, on Sky Sports and BBC's Match of the Day are also likely to result in speculation over whether there is any ulterior motive in heightening one's profile in other markets.

Scott Brown, his captain, can appreciate the difficulties that a proposal from England would create.

Brown has turned down offers to move south and watched his team-mates find it impossible to resist the lure of money, glamour and top-level opposition when clubs from the wrong end of the Barclays Premier League come calling with their chequebooks flapping.

Is Lennon likely to receive such a proposition? The problem is that it is difficult for those on the outside to judge his true abilities. But Brown believes any suggestion Lennon's hat trick of championships have been tarnished by the absence of Rangers, however, is plain wrong.

In his view, the haul of trophies under the Northern Irishman's reign would have been exactly the same had the Ibrox club steered a course around the dark, threatening pit they are still toiling to escape and remained in the top division.

"His record is incredible," said Brown. "I think the results would be the exact same even if [Rangers]were there because he puts that drive and winning mentality into you. It is what he had as a player as well. Even when we won the league, we were a wee bit disappointed after the draw with Ross County and knew we could do better.

"The gaffer said: 'Come on. Go and play and show what you can do.' He doesn't shout at players. He isn't down your throat. He makes you believe you are a better player and you can get the ball and create.

"It's good to have a manager who can speak to you. Of course, there are times when you need to rant and rave, but he does more talking than ranting and raving."

Lennon, misunderstood by many, is, indeed, a talker. He is a smart fellow with a sharp personality and brain and, Brown accepts, his head would have as much of a say in his decision as his heart should an attractive offer come his way.

"I think there is a bit of that in everyone," said Brown. "If you get an offer to go and do another job for more money, but you enjoy the job you are in, what are you going to take? It is a hard decision to make. We obviously all hope he will stay.

"Everyone says the Premier League is the best league in the world. That's understandable and there has only been one team in Scotland winning the title in the past three years.

"People obviously underestimate how big we are as a club and come here seeing it as a stepping stone, but look at Georgios Samaras. He came here six or seven years ago and has enjoyed every single minute.

"He's going to the World Cup yet again and that shows we can bring players and make them stay here."

Brown is in his seventh season at Celtic Park and has made it perfectly clear that an offer to cross the border to throw himself into a relegation scrap - as Joe Ledley did recently when signing up at Crystal Palace - holds no appeal for him whatsoever.

"I just love the club," he said. "It's a great place to be and winning trophies and playing Champions League is a big thing for me.

"I enjoy that. I have had the chance to go to England and it doesn't really bother me to go down there to fight and scrap for a touch when we have 65 or 70% of the ball every week and can enjoy the game."

The all-action style and raw aggression that marked Brown's career at Hibs was tempered and honed by Gordon Strachan during their time together at Parkhead, but the 28-year-old points out that Lennon has brought something fresh to his game as well.

"I had a free role at Hibs," he said. "Coming to Celtic made me understand that in the Champions League, for example, you can't just sprint around chasing the ball every five minutes. Gordon Strachan developed me as a midfielder in terms of how to respect when other people have the ball, how to handle that and how to get on the ball.

"The gaffer has put me into that position as well, although we have been playing a diamond and I've been at the bottom of that recently.

"It is ideal that he played there and you do learn bits and bobs. It's the same with Garry Parker, and Johan Mjallby with the defenders, showing them he was a braveheart, diving into every tackle."

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