Former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill has revealed that current Parkhead captain Scott Brown was on his radar before he left the club in 2005.

O’Neill will bring the Republic of Ireland side to Celtic Park to play in Brown’s testimonial on May 20 but the 66-year-old will require no introduction to the current Celtic midfielder.

Brown will be honoured with the game after a decade at the club but it is his early career that left its mark on O’Neill.

The former Celtic manager spent five years at Parkhead and he recalled the influence that both Brown and Kevin Thomson yielded on an exciting Hibernian team.

“I absolutely remember Scott Brown when he was a young lad coming through at Hibs,” said O’Neill. “Both he and Kevin Thomson were the shining lights of what was a very good young Hibs team at the time.

“Not long after I left, Gordon Strachan signed Scott but he was a player who was most definitely on our radar.

“He did really well for Hibs and what I seem to recall is that he wasn’t afraid to get in about it when we played them. He wasn’t intimidated by some of the reputations that would have been in our team.

“We had a squad of experienced international players who had been there and done it but the likes of Scott had no qualms about getting right into it. I would absolutely remember that much.

“I would certainly not take the credit for getting him to Celtic – that belongs to Gordon and those at the club who facilitated that – but he was most certainly a player that we were interested in and aware of his potential.

“There was talk of Rangers too being interested in both players and we knew that he was a player who had the raw potential to go on and have a very good career, which I think we can say he has.

“In this day and age it is a phenomenal time to have served at the football club and I am sure there will be many who will look to show their appreciation when the time comes around.”

And O’Neill will look to bring a strong squad with him as the Irish side head to Glasgow for the game. There had been some suggestions that Liverpool would provide the opposition for the game but O’Neill has revealed that he was thrilled when he was offered the chance to return to Celtic Park.

“John Delaney [chief executive of the FAI] came to me a few weeks back and said that there was a chance to play this game and immediately I was interested,” said O’Neill. “The only slight concern for us is that some of our players may well be involved in the play-offs for their club sides but we will be bringing as strong a team as we can.”