IT was probably for the best that the man who took the number eight from Scott Brown is, in many ways, ‘the anti-Broony’.

After all, was there really any way Celtic could replace what their charismatic captain had provided over so many years? Callum McGregor is carrying the torch in his own way – a supremely talented footballer who leads by example – but there was just something unique about Brown.

The swagger, the skinhead, the occasional snarl; as a personality, he was a one-off. So, as McGregor wears his old armband with distinction, Kyogo Furuhashi is bringing an altogether different vibe to Brown’s old jersey.

It’s hard to picture Brown with a permanent smile, and nigh-on impossible to imagine him helping a stricken opponent back to his feet in the heat of battle. However, even as a former master of football’s dark arts, the Celtic legend finds Kyogo’s on-field affability refreshing.

“You can see wee Kyogo has got a smile on his face everywhere he goes,” He helps people up after he tackles them. He’s picking up litter after games and stuff like that. He’s just a lovely, lovely lad.

“To be perfectly honest, there is no better person that could steal my number from me. It goes from one way to another. I wouldn’t have helped anyone up!

“But he’s willing to help anybody up which shows you there is no right way and no wrong way to play football and win games.

“Yes, he would be up there [for Player of the Year]. Cal would be up there too. There will be a few other people up there as well. But I’ve not seen enough to say that he definitely deserves it. I’ve got about 300 other games that I need to watch in League One.”

Brown is approaching the conclusion of his first season as Fleetwood Town manager, after which he will allow himself to attend to some unfinished business at Celtic. In 2021, Covid-19 restrictions forced the former midfielder to play out the final 90 minutes of a 14 year Parkhead love affair without a single fan in attendance.

Brown wanted to keep his return to Celtic Park while wearing Aberdeen colours as low key as possible the following season, meaning that almost two years on, he’s had no proper farewell to savour with supporters. That will change on May 18, when he reunites with Mikael Lustig on stage at the OVO Hydro for a night of celebration and reminiscing, as well as raising funds for the Celtic FC Foundation.

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“The club spoke about it because by the time I left it was obviously the Covid season, when I went up to Aberdeen,” Brown explained. “And when I came back, the fans were back in but it would have been disrespectful if I had started waving in an Aberdeen strip in front of all the Celtic fans. So then I came down, played the game, and went straight down that tunnel as quick as I could. 

“It is a fantastic opportunity for myself and something that the Celtic Foundation will benefit from, is the hope. For myself and Lusto to say goodbye to the fans because we never really had that opportunity…Just for what they have meant to us over the years, the support they have given to us through thick and thin, which has been brilliant. It is just nice that we can say that in front of them instead of sending out a message on Instagram or Twitter.”

As he departed Glasgow, Brown knew passing the armband to McGregor was a move Celtic would not regret. Manager Ange Postecoglou described it as an ‘easy decision’, and the midfielder has proven him correct several times over already.

McGregor is no stranger to lifting league titles, but last season’s was especially significant as his first in leading Celtic to it. By the time the current campaign ends, he may just have added another three trophies to the cabinet. Brown revealed he’s enjoyed watching the 29-year-old flourish with the armband – albeit with one caveat.

“I didn’t enjoy it when I was playing against him that’s for sure! Having to chase him!” he laughed. “But everyone knew how good a player Callum was. You grow into becoming a captain over the years and he has grown into that really quickly.

“He had to because it’s hard work, especially with a lot of new faces coming into the building. He has to make them welcome and make sure everyone in that dressing room is working together and believes in the manager.

“He has done a fantastic job so far. He seems to be getting better and better as the games go along. His form is improving and his understanding of the game is improving. 

“He is one who loves to watch football and I think nowadays there’s a lot of kids watch YouTube clips of players flicking balls over their heads and stuff but Callum is one who likes to study the game and try to understand it as much as he can. You can see that in his performances.”

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Those performances have helped Celtic on the path to yet another Treble, one that Brown knows all too well. He helped himself to four clean sweeps as captain but now, as a manager and distant observer, the 37-year-old was flawlessly diplomatic when asked if another one is on the way this term.

“They have a fantastic game coming up against Hibs,” Brown smiled. So, the good old cliche .. you take one game at a time. They have won one trophy and they need to make sure they concentrate on this week leading up to the Hibs game.”