BRENDAN RODGERS has revealed the no-holds-barred face-to-face that kept Scott Brown on his trophy-laden path.
The former Celtic boss recalled a meeting with the club captain shortly after he agreed to take over as manager in May 2016.
Clearly, the Irishman had not been impressed with Brown when photographs of the sozzled Hoops’ onfield leader propped up against a wall, sitting on an Edinburgh street had emerged in newspapers during a boozy night-out jusy days before the team’s League Cup Final meeting with Dundee United in March 2015.
It didn’t prevent the-then Scotland international captain putting in a solid performance as Ronny Deila won the first of his three honours at Parkhead with a 2-0 success, Kris Commons and James Forrest getting the goals in each half.
CUP THAT CHEERS…Scott Brown celebrates the 2-0 League Cup Final win over Dundee United in March 2015.
Rodgers, speaking to the Daily Record, said: “He was an incredible captain for me. But, funnily enough, before I joined, someone rang me and was telling me about the job and one of the first things they said was: ‘If you’re going to play how you want to play there, Brendan, you’re probably going to have to move on Scott’.
“When I knew I was taking the job, I invited him down to my house in London and we had a chat, had a really good chat.
“I explained the ideas, but I was also telling him about behaviour, because before I went in, Celtic had lost in the Scottish Cup semi-final and they were well beaten.
“They lost on penalties, but they got dominated in the game by Rangers. So, there was a real fear and a sense that Rangers had got back up to the top level, they’ve beaten Celtic in the Cup.”
Referring to the tabloid images of Brown on the Edinburgh pavement, Rodgers said: “Obviously, leading into that game, Scott was sat on the street having had a night out.
“And the point I was making to him straight away was: ‘You can’t do that. If you want to be the best player you possibly can be and you want to lead a club of Celtic’s status, an institution, then you’re one of the pillars of this club’.
“And from that meeting on he was incredible for me.
“I wanted to help him tactically, because I had seen him as a young player, he used to run all over the place.
“But what I was trying to get him to do was to think and run and not just to run. And from that it was going to be a tactical shift in how he would play, but always knowing he had the personality and he also wanted to be better and improve.
“And I’ve got to say, he was absolutely magnificent for me. I couldn’t speak highly enough of him as a guy. He played the game like he was trying to show people this is the first time that you’re seeing me play, every single game.
CRUNCH…Scott Brown challenges for the ball in the Hampden victory.
“It wouldn’t matter if that was Rangers in a semi-final or Final or up at Aberdeen or away at Inverness or away in Barcelona, home to Man City.
“It didn’t matter, he was playing like the people watching were watching him for the first time.”
Rodgers added: “He’s a much better player than people give him credit for.
“There’s absolutely no doubt if he wanted to, he could have played at the top end of the Premier League – one, because of his personality and two, because of his ability.
“I couldn’t speak highly enough of him, what an incredible player he was for me.”