SCOTT BROWN is closing in on Bobby Lennox to become the most decorated Celtic player in history, with the club’s latest Premiership title victory moving him just four shy of the Lisbon Lion’s haul of 25 medals.

If he does go on to overtake that milestone, he knows however that he is likely to be bypassed himself before long, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

James Forrest, turning 29 next month, is two medals further back, but has a few years on his captain yet. And given the consistently high levels of performances both the winger and the team as a whole have been churning out over this latest nine-in-a-row era, there is reason to believe that he will go on to lead the medal table by the time he hangs up his boots.

For Brown, that success is fully deserved. Forrest, he contends, has contributed just as much to the run of nine consecutive titles as anyone, and he is happy to see now some long-awaited recognition coming his way, with others now acknowledging the worth that his Celtic teammates have always known him to have to the team.

“For me, Jamesy Forrest is the underdog here,” Brown said. “He can go a long, long way more yet. He’s only 28 at the moment, just about to turn to 29, and has plenty of years to go winning trophies.

“He has been incredible, and, for me, he’s been a breath of fresh air every time he steps onto that park.

“The things he can do with a ball are something else with his pace and his power. He can just drive you up the pitch at any given time and turn things around for the team when you might be under some pressure.

“He just has that speed and strength to go past people, and I always remember a goal he scored against Rangers when he just drove past three people to go into the box and then score. It was pace, quality and finishing ability all rolled together.

“I wouldn’t be able to tell you the exact numbers on it all, but he must surely be close to having the most goals and assists throughout the Nine in a Row out of anyone who has played in it.

“It just shows you how much he has helped us out and the thing is that most people only really that side of his game. The work he does off the ball is incredible to dig in and help out team-mates defensively if they need it.”

Brown may not have those exact numbers in his head, but consultation of the record books confirms the accuracy of his evaluation of Forrest’s contribution to those nine titles. In the league alone during that period, he has banged in 54 goals and laid on another 56 for his teammates.

The last couple of seasons have seen those figures accelerate dramatically, with Brown crediting a tweak by former manager Brendan Rodgers for bringing the increased productivity out of his teammate.

“When Brendan came into the club, he was more of an old-fashioned winger, but that changed to him going more the box to score goals, to be creating chances for other players,” he said.

“He’s just been adding so much more to his game with every season and that is the great thing about Jamesy in that he wants to learn, and he wants to be the best.

“He’s been the best at what he does in the SPFL for many years and I was just so glad last season that was recognised when he won the Player of the Year Awards.”

He will be in contention for those awards yet again this summer despite the curtailment of the season, and Brown is sure that his professionalism away from the field will ensure that he will not only be back next term to do it all over again, but allow him to maintain that level for years to come yet.

“James is quite chilled out and he’s quite relaxed,” he said. “He’s got good banter, but he just comes in and does his own thing.

“He’s always into Lennoxtown quite early in the morning to make sure that he does his stretches before training.

“He’s always looking after his body to stay as fit as he possibly can because he knows that he has had injuries in the past and has got through them by looking after himself.

“He’ll go into the gym before training and stretch afterwards to look after himself and be in tip-top condition. It’s paid off because what a player he is and what a guy he is as well. Jamesy is so down to earth.”