Celtic captain Scott Brown has laughed off suggestions that his legs have gone, insisting that he has heard it all before.

The 33-year-old turned down a move to Australia last week in order to remain at Celtic for a further two seasons, a contract extension that will elongate his playing career with the Parkhead club to a 14 seasons. Paul McStay and Packie Bonner would be the last to sustain such longevity at Celtic.

Brown missed almost six weeks of the season, an absence that coincided with Celtic hitting a purple patch for the first time in the domestic season. It led to comparisons of the club’s midfield with and without Brown in it, with a significant voice rising in favour of the latter.

The midfielder, however, has pointed to hearing a similar tale of woe when Rangers beat Celtic in the Scottish Cup semi-final following a penalty shoot-out at Hampden in 2016.

“That puts a smile on my face,” he said when questioned about the gossip around him. “It just makes me go out and work harder to prove to everybody that I can still do it.

“That [2016 semi-final] was three years ago and people were saying my legs had gone. I hadn’t heard it all before as I don’t read. But people walking in the streets told me they’d read in the paper that my legs had fallen off.

“I was like ‘what – the second time?’

“I don’t think I have to prove a point to anybody.

“For me, I’ve done well over my 12 years so far.

“I’m willing to take it. I’m big enough and ugly enough. I’m 33 now and if someone is going to write to me on Twitter saying I’m finished I’m really going to cry myself to sleep at night…”

Celtic’s defeat to Rangers at Ibrox at the end of December seemed to offer further credence to the theory that Brown’s legs might not be up to the challenge – Rangers midfielder Scott Arfield certainly seemed to think so – but on the balance of the evidence of the season it is more plausible that a midfielder with Olivier Ntcham and Brown in it offers a combination that is too ponderous.

In any case, Brown has insisted that if anyone wants to point a finger in his direction he won’t argue.

“I’m happy to take the blame for the last Rangers game,” he said.

“If they want to hit me with that I’m big enough and ugly enough to deal with it.

“We’ve won a lot of games and set so many records over the past few years.

“Obviously you are eventually going to get beaten in a game. For us, it wasn’t the best performance but we’ll come back stronger from it.

“Since then we’ve gone on a winning run which has been good for us.

“If people want to put the blame on me they can put the blame on me if it eases the pressure for the other lads.”

Brown could end his career as one of the most decorated players in Celtic’s history.. He has currently won 17 honours with the Parkhead side - eight league titles, five League Cups and four Scottish Cups. Should Rodgers’ side win the league and Scottish Cup this term, Brown would level up with Jimmy Johnstone in terms of silverware.

And while humility might not be the readily associated description that goes beside Brown given his spiky on-field persona, he was reluctant to place himself among some of the iconic names that have gone before.

“I don’t see myself as a legend here,” he said. “You look at the legends – [John] Clarky, Billy [McNeill], Bertie [Auld], Danny [McGrain]. There are no bigger legends than them.

“For me I’m still a young boy compared with them. I’ve got a lot of learning still to do and a lot of games still to play. I just want to push them as much as I possible can.

“I enjoy playing games and I enjoy winning.”

Brown has played 507 games for Celtic but just as his legs have not given out just yet, nor has he allowed his brain to catch up with what that means in terms of his association with the club and his place in it.

“It will probably be after I finish playing football that I’ll look at the stats and how many games I played and where I am in the hall of fame and that kind of stuff,” said Brown. “Now, for me, it’s about winning games and pushing this club as far as I can.”

Even when he does call time on the playing side of things, it seems inevitable that there will be a coaching role for Brown at Celtic. But at the minute, it remains about the here and now.

“Yes, Peter [Lawwell] mentioned that but for me right now it’s about playing,” he said. “I went down the coaching road three years ago when my legs went the first time.

“It was hard to juggle playing with leaving training sharp to go and watch the under 20s play, coaching there and getting back at 1am / 2am.

“Then you are coming back into training. It was too much to keep going. The gaffer was right to tell me to stop doing that and focus on playing football again. For me right now it’s about concentrating on football. Once I do finish we’ll sit down, chat and go through things and see what we can do.”