SCOTT BROWN has been busy clocking up the milestones at Celtic over the past few years, closing in now on a 600th appearance for the club he joined 13 years ago from Hibernian. In that time, he has seen and done it all; captaining the club to honours, the big European nights at Celtic Park and on the continent, as well as being one of only two players – alongside James Forrest – to have played a part in all nine of the club’s current run of none consecutive titles.

Today, he clocks up a personal milestone as he reaches the grand old age – in footballing terms at least – of 35. But not only does he retain the appetite to lead Celtic, he is enjoying the privilege more than ever.

There may have been times over the years where it didn’t look as though Brown was having a particularly good time on the park, snarling his way around the midfield as he allowed his trademark aggression to spill over on occasion.

He can’t promise that won’t happen ever again, but there is no doubt that you are more likely to see a smile than a scowl on Brown’s face on the pitch these days. The Celtic skipper knows that he has many more games behind him than in front of him, so he is determined to appreciate the good times that he hopes still lie ahead.

“I cherish every single moment that I go on the park now,” Brown said. “That’s why I play with a smile nowadays, which I didn’t really 10 years ago.

“Playing in front of 60,000 fans is something that isn’t going to last forever so you need to take it all in. I enjoy training and even the drive through to Lennoxtown.

“I have a routine which I’ve followed now for 13 years and I don’t ever want it to end but it will one day so you just have to make the most of it while you can. Staying injury-free and having a good attitude helps, too.

“Proving people wrong is something I’ve done since I was a kid. When I was younger, I was told I wasn’t strong enough, wasn’t tall enough and I wasn’t aggressive enough.

“I went away and tried to work on all of those things and maybe went a bit too far on the aggression sometimes, but that’s what I’ve always done and what I intend to continue doing while playing with a smile on my face.”

One thing that is sure to wipe that smile from Brown’s face is any suggestion that there was a scintilla of doubt around the destination of last season’s Premiership title had it been able to have been played to a conclusion.

It isn’t just the 13-point lead that Celtic enjoyed over Rangers at the time of the shutdown – albeit with a game in hand – that has Brown convinced his side would have seen the league out, but their ability to react to setbacks which would have made the required implosion in form hugely unlikely.

He argues that you only have to look at the way they picked themselves up following their New Year defeat to their city rivals for ample evidence to back up the theory.

“We’re not supposed to lose in the league to anyone, which is bound to happen now and again,” he said. “It’s how you bounce back from disappointments that matters.

“We have that bouncebackability, that knack of being able to go on a run after a setback, like we did after losing to Rangers at Parkhead in December.

“We went to Dubai, worked really hard and we were flying after that: in fact, we were devastated when the season was ended early because we believed we would have finished in style and won it by a lot more points.

“Everyone knows we deserved to win it and that we could have got the job done one way or another.”

So, yet another campaign beckons for Brown, who is currently enjoying the longest pre-season of his long stay at Celtic. Does that extended rest period allied to his now vast experience of leading the club mean that next season – with 10-in-a-row on the line – will be easier for the 35-year-old Brown to handle?

“No,” he says emphatically. “Not really, because the pressure is always the same here. Now we’re two wins away from a fourth successive treble people expect that we should be able to do that all the time even though no-one’s ever done it before.”