THE sight of a professional footballer sauntering about with an iPhone glued to his ear as he arrives at a stadium before a match or heads home afterwards has become an all too familiar one in modern game.

But it is not something that anyone will have seen the Celtic players who have just gone the entire Ladbrokes Premiership campaign undefeated doing in recent months – or is likely to in the near future.

Because if they do it is sure to be pounced on by their captain Scott Brown and punished with a hefty fine. 

There have been many qualities – an abundance of pace, no little skill, high levels of fitness, a formidable work rate and a sound game plan being chief among them – responsible for the 46-game unbeaten run which Brendan Rodgers’s men have gone on domestically this season. 

But the team spirit which Rodgers has successfully fostered since being appointed last May and the tightness of the bond that exists between the players – including, even though he has hardly played in recent months, Kolo Toure – has also been of paramount importance to their success. 

As he looked back on a league campaign which saw Celtic win a record 34 games, accumulate a record 106 points, score a record 106 goals and triumph by a record 30 points, Brown identified the closeness of the group as being a key factor behind their historic achievement. 

He believes that Rodgers pulled off a masterstroke by banning phones after he arrived and believes it has helped to bring a group which comprises several different nationalities together. 

“It’s good to make sure everyone speaks English and we all have banter together,” he said. 

“There’s no phones allowed and that means we sit and chat to each other. It’s more a friendly environment than anything else. The gaffer banned the phones. We follow what he says or I’m out!

“Kolo’s been good with the foreign boys that have come – especially the likes of Eboue [Kouassi] who didn’t have the greatest English when he came, but Kolo has chatted to him and helped him with English lessons.

“He’s become really chatty and that’s a good thing. It’s important that the new boys get used to the Scottish accent as quickly as possible. It’s okay for the lads to talk French, say, but when we are all together we have to speak English in the dressing room and on the park.

“This is the fittest team and it’s one of the best dressing rooms I’ve been involved with. When Lenny [Neil Lennon] was here we had a great dressing room and we’re just getting back to that now. It shows on the park and when we score a goal everyone celebrates together. Even Craigy [Gordon] fancies joining in – although he doesn’t fancy the 120-yard run. It’s been enjoyable this season. Lenny’s dressing room and this one are the best two I’ve been involved in. There’s been good banter and Kolo has helped this season – he’s been unbelievable. Even though he’s not played he enjoys being part of it and being one of the lads as well as helping with the coaching side.”

There have been many key games for this Celtic side during the 2016/17 campaign – but Brown feels the worst 45 minutes of football they have produced – against Motherwell at Fir Park in December – were also the most important.

“We were 2-0 down at half-time and the gaffer changed the tactics,” recalled Brown. “We got it back to 2-2, lost another to go down 3-2 but then won 4-3. The emotion that day of everyone celebrating together was great.

“We knew that if we went out in the second half and played we could do it. It was the worst first 45 we had played and the gaffer let us know that. He was so calm and collected and the way he changed things worked. He gets paid to do that and he does it brilliantly.

“At the start it wasn’t great either with the away game in Gibraltar, but since then we’ve set a high standard. It’s all about passing and movement and the more you move the more possession you have.

“The success is down to our hard work and dedication. Everyone has looked after themselves and we’ve had very few injuries. We’ve all been ready to go whenever the gaffer has asked us to be ready.”