ON the field, he is the man the Rangers fans love to hate. But off it, Celtic captain Scott Brown has earned the respect of a large number of them, at least.

That is because he has set footballing rivalries to the side to sign a picture of him being punched by former Rangers winger Ryan Kent in the Old Firm clash at Celtic Park back in March in order to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Support.

Kent scored in that game, and managed to stay on the park until the end despite his altercation with Brown. Two of his teammates saw red though, with both Alfredo Morelos during the match and Andy Halliday after it dismissed for flashpoints involving the Celtic skipper.

And with Celtic running out 2-1 winners and eventually going on to win the title, Brown certainly had the last laugh, while proving he can see the funny side of taking one in the face from Kent too. And he will always be on hand to help out again in future for a cause that is close to his heart, having lost his own sister to cancer.

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“It was true," Brown said. "It was Geo (Thomson, an artist) who did it. I’m happy to do it if it’s for a charity or maybe someone who’s in a bad place.

“If someone’s willing to bid for it then I’m willing to help out.

“Yeah, I’m getting punched in the painting but I’ve been punched by better people. I will probably be punched again in the future!

“It’s nice to be nice sometimes. There’s a lot of people who go through hardships, families who’ve had hard times, especially with things like cancer.

“If you can help out I don’t see any harm with a signature on a painting and Ryan and me were happy to help out.

“Geo said if he could get the two of us to sign it then someone would buy it with the proceeds going to charity.

“It was a good painting – probably the best I’ve looked!"

While football may have briefly been a secondary consideration for Brown, he has barely had time to think about anything else over the summer.

With less than two weeks' holiday while also managing to fit in the completion of his A coaching licence, the 34-year-old's head has been kept firmly on the game.

“I got about 12 days as I had my A License as well," Brown said. "I started it four or five years ago and was working with the under 20s.

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“When Brendan came in he knocked that on the head because he wanted me to concentrate on football as there would be loads of time to do what I wanted at the end of my career.

“He was always good that way and that’s how it will be now. I want to play as long as I can.

“I’ve got two seasons left and we’ll see where we go from there, whether I want to go in to coaching or keep playing.

“I’ll be 36 by then and on a slippery slope!"

Brown still has plenty to achieve on the pitch before then, with his chief consideration being the capture of a ninth league title in a row.

As the club edge closer to the magic number of 10, Brown is all too aware that the pressure on their shoulders will increase, but playing under such a burden of expectation is hardly new to him.

“There’s never a normal season here," he said." "Everyone wants us to win whether it’s a friendly over here (in Austria and Switzerland) or a cup final.

"That is the expectation levels at Celtic Football Club and it’s gone through the roof this last three years.

“We have to keep pushing the boundaries as far as we can.

“The hard work continues. That’s never changed. It was hard work as a 17-year-old at Hibs, it’s the same at 34 and going for nine-in-a-row.

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“It’s pressure we are used to and we know everyone is getting stronger and trying to catch us.

“We will work even harder. We’ll bring in some fresh faces and there are young lads coming through as well."

Brown won't be making any special allowances in welcoming those fresh faces, such as Christopher Jullien and Luca Connell, and he will leave it down to Neil Lennon to impress upon them the expectations which now rest with them. But he will be on hand throughout the season in any case, should they need a reminder.

“We have a manager who does that," Brown said. "He’s someone who loves the club and thrives off the atmosphere around us.

“He expects us to win games no matter what and he makes sure everyone knows what the title and nine-in-row means to the fans,

“He gets it through to players, then there are guys like me and Jamesie (Forrest) who have been here from the start and we want to push that legacy as far as we can.

“The manager has been fantastic since coming back. We were doing the running the other day and he almost thought about joining in. Almost!

“But he was there cheering us on when most managers would leave us to it when it’s a 40 minute session.

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“There is always going to be changes in the way we play. There were changes when Brendan (Rodgers) was here as well. We went to 3-4-3 at times but we might go a bit more direct, it might be short, sharp passes, that’s football.

“Brendan used to do it as well when we got the ball to Moussa (Dembele) when we couldn’t get out. It got us up the park.

“It’s about different kinds of possession and whether there’s a striker up on his own who needs the ball to feet.

“It will be different at times.”