Whatever legendary status might have been conjectured for Scott Brown as recently as March 2015, it is fair to suggest that a rarefied place in the Celtic pantheon – which includes Lisbon Lions such as Billy McNeill and Bobby Lennox – would have sounded like the stuff of fantasy.
It was just short of four years ago that the Celtic captain was photographed intoxicated and sitting on an Edinburgh pavement, tucking into a pizza, having been refused access to the gyrating attractions of an establishment by name of Baby Dolls.
Fast forward to this week and the announcement that Brown had agreed a contract extension until 2021 which, if fulfilled, will see his tenure at Celtic reach 14 years. In the shorter term, should he skipper the side to a third successive Scottish treble this season, he will equal Jimmy Johnstone’s tally of 19 club honours.
Johnstone, of course, had a reputation for waywardness – witness the celebrated escapade in May 1974, a few hours after Scotland’s victory over Wales in the Home International Championship, when an intoxicated Jinky had to be rescued by the coastguard from a drifting rowing boat in the Firth of Clyde. Johnstone, who died from motor neurone disease in 2006, is now commemorated by a statue outside Celtic Park and was voted the greatest ever Hoops player by the fans.
Brown has a way to go before he is cast in bronze but the 33-year-old is in line to become the Celtic player with most club honours after Bobby Lennox’s 25 and the 23 accumulated by Billy McNeill. “Not bad for a young guy from Fife,” said Brendan Rodgers, when the Celtic manager was invited to review his captain’s progress ahead of Sunday’s league trip to St Johnstone.
“When you are sitting in hotels and you see some of the games that come on from way past and you think about someone, ‘God, he used to play for Celtic!’ and then all of a sudden Brownie comes into the picture and it seems likes ages ago.