IT says something for Scott Brown’s longevity at Celtic that Callum McGregor’s earliest memories of watching him came as a ballboy. And that Brown was playing as a second striker.

Today at Easter Road, those glory years will turn to tears as Celtic bid farewell to the man who became their leader, and McGregor will miss him even more than most having been there every step of the way as man and boy.

“I had this conversation with him a couple of weeks ago,” said McGregor. “The team were playing AC Milan at home, I was a ball boy and he was playing like a number 10 – almost a second striker.

“I was like ‘Why were you playing striker in a Champions League game when you’re now playing centre-back basically?’ It was funny having that chat with him.

“He’d this aura about him from the first time I saw him. He just had this presence and still hands out to this day. Just being a young boy and going in to train with the squad [and] seeing him, the usual with just the tee-shirt on, running about like a mad man setting the tone.

“Being a young boy you were just terrified of him. It was quite an intimidating experience.

"Since then I’ve obviously grown up and we’ve become a lot closer. We’ve got a great relationship on and off the pitch. That’s something I’ll cherish forever really.”

There is unlikely to be a dry eye among the Celtic players when the final whistle blows on Brown’s Celtic career, rather fittingly back at the place where his playing career began and from where he came to the club back in 2007.

“I think there might be [tears]”, McGregor said. “It’s obviously an emotional situation and he’s been here for so long. There are so many boys that he’s got such a great connection with. Obviously the way everyone’s been speaking about him in the past few weeks tells you just highly the esteem the boys hold him in.

“I think it will be an emotional occasion. In the changing room after the game there might be a few words said. It speaks to how much everyone respects him.

“The only disappointing thing is we’ve not managed to give him a proper send off in terms of a full stadium and maybe the boys meeting up for a party. It’s pretty low key in that sense. That’s the only disappointing factor really.”

It may be hard for fans on the outside to picture the prospect of seeing a more contemplative side to Brown, but McGregor has seen that side to him emerge as the reality of his Celtic exit nears.

“He’s not an emotional guy but in the past week I think you can see him maybe enjoying it a wee bit more than what he would normally in terms of being around the building,” he said.

“[Friday] on the training ground is obviously the last day that he’ll be able to hang about with the boys and get that banter and things like that. I think that side of things have kind of settled in this week.

“He’s going to be a huge loss around the building. He’s always up to something and it’s going to be a quieter place without him. We’ve just tried to enjoy the past few days.”

There hasn’t been a lot for the Celtic players to enjoy during this nightmare season, as they limp into this final league match with the air of a wounded animal grateful to be put out of their misery at long last.

Thoughts will immediately turn to next term and a chance to earn redemption, and while fans will be more preoccupied by who will fill the dugout, there is also the question of who succeeds Brown as captain.

As the current vice-captain, McGregor’s name is at the top of the list of candidates, but he isn’t getting too far ahead of himself.

“There’s a lot still to happen at the club before we get into that situation,” he said.

“All my focus is on the game on Saturday and then there’s the summer with the Scotland squad and the Euros.

“There’s a lot of change to happen at the club with players in and players out and a new manager coming in. It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen.

“All I can say is any time I’ve deputised and stepped in, it’s been a massive honour and something I’ll be really proud of forever. We’ll just need to wait and see what happens come the summer.”

There is no doubt that through his conduct, commitment and consistency, McGregor has shown himself to be officer material over the years, which is why his recent slip in standards to earn a dismissal at Ibrox grates on him all the more.

"The red card at Ibrox was disappointing,” he said. “You don't want to be sent off ever, but in a game like that it hurts even more.

"I felt it was slightly harsh but I have to accept it and learn from it. You are always learning as a footballer and again, it's another situation to do that.

"You learn in the good and bad times. I have reflected on it and it's now time to move on.”

Just as Brown, and Celtic as a whole, now must do.