JAMES Forrest has revealed for the first time the vital role that departing Celtic captain Scott Brown played in him making his breakthrough at Parkhead - and predicted his team mate will return to the Glasgow giants as manager in the future.

Brown will bring an end to his remarkable and trophy-laden 14 year tenure in the East End when he plays his final game for Celtic against his first club Hibernian at Easter Road tomorrow.

The former Scotland midfielder will move on to Aberdeen during the summer and become a player-coach under Stephen Glass at Pittodrie next term.   

Forrest admitted he is devastated to see “Broony”, who he has played with for the past 12 seasons and won every honour in the game in this country alongside many times over, leave.

The winger considers the 35-year-old to be a mentor as well as a friend and knows from personal experience that he contributed just as much to the Celtic cause off the park as he did on it.   

He recalled how the fun-loving personality ensured that he integrated into the Celtic squad and grew in self-belief - and quickly realise the standards he would have to set in training and matches to be a success in the professional game. 

“I just know everyone inside the club appreciates him and everything he’s done here,” he said. “Look at how the fans turned up for the game on Wednesday night, just to show their appreciation. I thought that was a great touch.

“I’ve obviously known him for years. But I think back to when I first came into the team and how he helped me personally. I was a young boy and there weren’t many. But he took me under his wing and it meant so much to me.

“Since then, I’ve seen him do it with so many players over the years. That sort of thing goes under the radar, how much of a help he is, especially to the younger players who break through.

“He has so much about him, he doesn’t just look after himself, he always thinks of other people. I think people are only born with that type of character.

“Everyone who has played with him says he’s the best guy they know - even though everyone who plays against him hates it. That just shows you. But when I came into the team he gave me great help and advice.”

Forrest added: “I was a quiet boy when I first started training with the first-team - and then I got told I was sharing a room with Broony! I’d say that was throwing me into the deep end.

“It was great, though, and really helped bring me out of my shell. It made me feel confident in myself and that was important. I was only 18 at the time and we were totally different characters. There was the age gap too.

“I didn’t know anyone and then the next thing I know I’m rooming with the captain.  He was a nightmare at times because I liked my sleep back then and he didn’t quite let me get any!

“But it was the best thing for me, it really was. I learned from him and could then see from him in training what we demanded every day.”

Forrest, who has put a difficult five month spell on the sidelines firmly behind him and is hoping to be selected for the Scotland squad for the Euro 2020 finals next month, confessed it will be unusual squaring up to Brown next season.

However, he is confident that his skipper will do well at Aberdeen and has a successful career as a coach and a manager ahead of him when he finally retires from playing.   

“He’s still here the now,” he said. “We’ve been doing a lot of video clips for his send-off. So I don’t think it’ll sink in that he’s gone until pre-season when we come back and he’s not here. Then it’ll be a strange feeling to play against him.

“But Broony is such a top professional he’ll top up top Aberdeen and do well. It was a big decision for him to make. 

“His family stay in Edinburgh and he’s obviously been here at Celtic for so long.  He didn’t make the call overnight, it took him a good few months to think about it. But once he made his decision everyone respected it.

“There’s the trophies he’s won but on top of that there are so many memories down the years. Right from the start, all throughout his time here, he’s won things.”

Brown is about the only name in European football not to be linked with the managerial vacancy at Celtic since Neil Lennon resigned from his position back in February. 

Forrest, though, thinks it is only a matter of time before the he is occupying the home dugout at Parkhead. Asked if he thought that would happen in the future, he said: “One hundred percent. He’s doing his coaching badges. But then I still think he’s got another year or two left before that.

“But the way he is with players and his knowledge of the game, he’ll definitely be a manager. He could even be a Celtic manager one day. It will maybe work out well for him to go away first. I could definitely see him coming back here one day and I hope that’s the case.”