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He might have had a colourful past but Gordon Strachan believes Scott Brown can make a vivid impression

S COTT Brown was summoned from his room in the SFA's hotel just before 2.30pm.

Scott Brown assumed that,  in the absence of Darren Fletcher,  the captaincy would go to either Gary Caldwell or Kenny Miller
Scott Brown assumed that, in the absence of Darren Fletcher, the captaincy would go to either Gary Caldwell or Kenny Miller

He was to come and wait downstairs; the manager wanted a word. Brown has the sort of colourful off-field history which invited his imagination to run wild. What had he done wrong? "I was wondering what it was all about. I was thinking 'it's not Boozegate again, is it?'. I was fine last night! I didn't know why I'd been asked to come downstairs or why I was sitting there on my own."

"Boozegate" was the all-night drinking scandal in 2009 which ended Barry Ferguson's Scotland career and derailed Allan McGregor's. Brown was at the scene of the crime, too, but left just in time to avoid punishment. That's not why Gordon Strachan wanted to see him yesterday, of course.

Nearly four years on, Brown has replaced capers with captaincy. He will lead out Scotland for the first time – at any age level – for tonight's friendly against Estonia at Pittodrie. "I only found out five minutes before the press conference was due to start," Brown said. "Gordon just came over to me, said 'you're captain' and then walked away. I had a couple of minutes to think about it before coming here. It's a great honour."

The midfielder has been Celtic captain since February 2010, leading the club to one league title and one Scottish Cup triumph in that time. Strachan signed Brown for Celtic from Hibernian for £4.4m in 2007 and his admiration of the 27-year-old has continued to grow.

Brown has plenty of fun and mischief in his personality but Strachan sees nothing untoward in it. "We've had all that nonsense," the manager said. "Steven Pressley was going to string him up in the first [Celtic] pre-season tour we went on because something happened in his room. I don't think Pres has fully recovered. It was more what Scott did to his room than what he did to Pressley. You could say the same about Roy Keane at Manchester United: there was a devil inside him but Alex [Ferguson] always picked him.

"As a person? You see what you see on the TV and Scott won't be a lot of people's best friend, going by watching him on TV. I think a lot of people are like that when they play football. But I hope in life you are judged upon what you are as a person and, as a person, Scott is different class. He has never had a problem with anybody who has worked round him, and he has had a lot to deal with in his life on and off the field. He is mentally strong. Whatever goes on around him doesn't affect what he is meant to be doing as a football player.

"He was always a terrific player: that's why we bought him from Hibs. You just need to learn that there is a natural thing there, you just have to let him go sometimes. He does things not out of the training manual, it is down to athletic ability and a big heart. Sometimes you just have to let that go."

The captaincy has come to Brown on his 30th international appearance. Gary Caldwell would have been the natural replacement for Darren Fletcher in the role tonight had the Wigan defender not had to withdraw from the squad with a hip problem.

It had not occurred to Brown that the honour might fall to him instead. "I didn't have a clue I was going to get it," he said. "I didn't even notice Gary Caldwell had gone home. I thought Kenny Miller or someone like that would get it. I'm delighted. I didn't even have time to tell my family about it: they probably found out on Sky Sports News. This is definitely up there with anything I've achieved in my career. This season has been great, getting to the last 16 of the Champions League with Celtic. For the gaffer to now give me the Scotland captaincy for his game, I can't ask for much more.

"My relationship with Gordon is good. I hadn't spoken to him for a while, not since he went down to England, but he is the same old Gordon. He is happy to be in the job and he will talk me through what he has learned in the last few years and what has changed. I'm not sure if it was a good idea or a bad idea for him to pay all that money to sign me from Hibs, but it was very nice of him. He has been a great manager who has taught me a lot. He taught me responsibility as well."

The rest of the country will hope eventually to share Brown's gratitude to Strachan. There will be a search for evidence of improvement in his first game in charge, against a team who are 83rd in the Fifa world rankings compared to Scotland's 69th. Even a conspicuously positive, attacking approach will feel refreshing after the drab performances which brought down Craig Levein.

Asked if he had noticed any differences in training sessions under Strachan, Brown gave an encouraging response: "He wants us to press high up the pitch and put teams under pressure," he said. "He wants us to make the opposition make mistakes, instead of sitting off them more and soaking up the pressure."

Scotland supporters will like the sound of that. The new manager, with his new captain, must now begin the job of generating a new mood.

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