THE word legend is used to describe footballers far too freely at times.

Only a select few are actually deserving of being recognised as such.

But nobody would begrudge Scott Brown the accolade.

Except, that is, the Celtic captain himself.

Brown has just lifted the Premiership trophy for the ninth consecutive year. The only other Parkhead player to have done so in the past was the great Billy McNeill.

His haul of medals – he has won no fewer than 21 at both Hibernian and his current club – make him one of the most decorated players in Scottish football history.

Yet, the midfielder baulks at any comparison with his illustrious predecessor as captain or, for that matter, the players who helped the East End club to win the European Cup in 1967.

“I am not anywhere near what those guys did for Celtic,” he said. “What they achieved for the club was absolutely frightening and they are absolute legends.

“It’s just not really right for anyone to even consider I’m anything like those guys because of the medals won. Those legends are on a different level to me.”

Perhaps the fact the 34-year-old has, despite all of the success he has enjoyed and silverware he has managed to get his hands on, much that he still wants to do in the game make him uncomfortable with such talk.

Brown is very much looking ahead, not backwards. He has targeted his next objectives during lockdown. He would like to complete a fourth consecutive clean sweep of domestic trophies and win a 10th consecutive Scottish title in the 2020/21 campaign when it gets underway.

“I never imagined at the beginning I’d be in the situation of captaining Celtic to Nine-In-A- Row,” he said. “On the whole, it’s been fantastic. All through the years we have had belief in each other and it’s the same again with this current group of lads.

“Maybe one day when I finish playing, I’ll look back on it all, look at the success that we have had as a club and the trophies that we have won together and think it is an incredible achievement.

“But things like that can only happen when you finish. You can’t have thoughts like that when you are still playing. You cannot take your eye off the ball for a single second at Celtic. So for me just now, it’s about still looking forward, still pushing on and still trying to keep achieving more.”

Brown has defied those who have written him off as being past his best on numerous occasions in the past few years and enjoyed the most memorable spell of his 13 year stay at Celtic.

He has, like all of his team mates, been frustrated by the lengthy lay-off caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, but he is optimistic it will be beneficial in the months ahead and enable him to continue playing at the highest level.

“I’m really missing football at the moment and I want to get back playing because I feel as though I have a lot of games left in me still to play,” he said. “That’s all very well, but I want to get back onto the park and show that and to compete at the top level for as long as I possibly can.

“The longer that I am off, the harder it is going to be for me to get back, but you always have to look at the positive aspects to things if you can and that is what I have tried to do.

“It was another long and hard season and the rest has been good for the body. Usually, we would have two, three or maybe even four weeks in the summer tops to recover from the previous season before it’s back into pre-season training to go again for the next season.

“There are still one or two little aches and pains when you go back in that situation, but they should all be gone.”

Brown may not be the most technically gifted footballer ever to play for Celtic, but few have had his energy and drive and he is a true inspiration to those around him whenever he takes to the field.

However, the former Scotland skipper believes his manager Neil Lennon and his team mates make his job easy and must take credit for everything the Glasgow club achieved last term.

“There are times when the manager steps in and he’s unbelievable,” he said. “If training has been sloppy or if we are not playing as well as we can play, he’ll come in and say so.

“But I think that for the majority of the time, if you are honest and truthful with yourself as a player, you will take a little bit of stuff from the lads at times as well.

“It might be: you are not working hard enough. And the thing is you can go straight over to the stats that are available these days and you can show them that it’s not at the required levels.

“The manager can do it, but the lads are brilliant. We know if we are not right, we’ll go into the dressing room and we will try to sort things out amongst ourselves.

“The coaches might say we are going to play a certain system today, so here it is. Away you go and sort it out. Everyone knows what role to take and knows their responsibilities and tasks.

“You know if someone is out of position or if someone is not working hard enough. It’s more the senior lads who will say something, but the younger ones are coming through and they can see it as well.”

Brown continued: “It’s not a case of getting onto someone’s back. It’s a case of demanding that they give what is expected.

“It’s not about having a go at people. It’s not about giving out stick and being harsh. It’s about us winning. It’s about Celtic having success.

“I expect to win. If it’s five-a-sides at training or 11-a-side with your mates down the park, I expect to win because that is what is within you. It has to be within you when you go to Celtic.”