The announcement of Scott Brown’s impending exit from Celtic was followed, naturally, by a succession of glowing tributes.
All manner of acclaim was reached for in an attempt to assess the full extent of a 14-year contribution that is now entering its final weeks before he decamps to become player-coach at Aberdeen.
Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell hailed him as the most influential figure in Scottish football during that time. A legend. Lawwell made it clear the Parkhead club had not wanted to lose Brown. His qualities as a player and a person were extolled to the maximum.
Brown joined Celtic in 2007 and he has gone on to win 10 Scottish Premiership titles
Those words were sincere and would have struck a chord with many Celtic supporters.
But perhaps it is the numbers that most succinctly sum up what Brown managed to achieve in Glasgow’s east end following his £4.4million move from Hibernian in the summer of 2007.
There was an extraordinary statistic contained within the fourth Brown-related Tweet to emerge from Celtic’s official account on Thursday afternoon. The 35-year-old has a trophy for every 28 appearances.
Over the course of more than 600 games, Brown has claimed 22 domestic prizes.
Only Willie Maley, Billy McNeill, Jock Stein and Bobby Lennox have greater individual hauls in Celtic’s entire history.
Arguments can be made about the respective strengths of different eras, but there can be no disputing the relentless appetite Brown showed for accruing silverware.
Through his midfield play and sheer force of personality, he led from the front as Celtic completed a quadruple Treble that is unlikely to ever be replicated.
For Brown, the medals total can be separated into 10 league championships, six League Cups and six Scottish Cups. There is still a chance to win one more of the latter to make his numbers even more eye-popping — and dilute the disappointment of this season — before he takes off the green-and-white jersey for a final time.
That will mark the end of an era and coincide with a summer of wider change at Parkhead.
It was Lawwell who negotiated Brown’s arrival from Easter Road, having been appointed as chief executive of the club in 2003. He, too, will depart at the end of the season and be replaced by Dominic McKay.
‘It goes without saying that we were desperately trying to keep Scott at the club, but while of course we are very saddened by his decision, we understand and respect it fully and wish Scott and his family nothing but success, health and happiness for the future,’ said Lawwell.
‘We know Scott will continue to give everything to the club until the end of the season and, as he always does, will be working tirelessly to bring the club and our fans further success.
‘I know our fans will miss Scott in a Celtic jersey and fighting for our badge, something he has done for so long. However, there is no doubt that he will forever be remembered at Celtic as our captain, leader and indeed a legend.’
Brown played under the management of Gordon Strachan, Tony Mowbray, Neil Lennon (during two tenures), Ronny Deila and Brendan Rodgers — as well as the current interim leadership of John Kennedy.
‘Scott has been the heartbeat of Celtic for so long and, without doubt, the most influential figure in the Scottish game across the past 15 years,’ continued Lawwell.
‘With more than 600 appearances for the club, he has made an imprint on Celtic which puts him in the company of our other true greats — and with a legacy to match.
‘When he chose Celtic over others, we were of course delighted. We knew we were getting one of the country’s finest talents and he, in turn, a chance to take to the stage and be part of Scotland’s biggest club.
‘He took this opportunity with both hands but I don’t think any one of us would have imagined just how successful he was going to be.
‘Ever since signing, he has lived and breathed the club and our cause — day after day, across a decade and a half, giving his heart and soul to Celtic.
‘As every Celtic manager in the past 15 years will testify, as well as being a hugely talented player, Scott’s effort, his drive, his work ethic and his will to win are an example to us all. He has been a pivotal figure in delivering such a sustained period of dominance for the club and, for that, I know every Celtic supporter will be so grateful to him.’
Kennedy delivered his own tribute as he outlined how Brown’s mentality had set the tone for the dressing room over so many years.
‘He’ll be irreplaceable in terms of what he gives us on a daily basis, his drive to be successful and how he leads the group by example every single day,’ said Kennedy.
‘He’s the perfect example of a modern-day professional. How he lives his life, the condition he keeps himself in and how he pushes himself every single day is incredible.
‘He’s the guy coaches always look to in order to take some of the burden off other players. You always know Scott’s there — and every match day you hear him before games and you hear him on the pitch. He drives the training forward every day.
‘He’s a massive character, a huge personality and he’s been a massive part of this club for so long and he’ll certainly be missed.
‘I’d love to have had more time with him and seen him bring more success to the club, but it’s his own personal decision and we have to respect that. He’s given so much of his life to us and we wish him all the best moving forward.
‘He’s one of the greats of this club, that’s without doubt, and that will only grow as time passes. He’s a huge part of the club and he always will be in my eyes.’