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Saturday 24 August 2019

Bren has made us supermen!

Brown: Rodgers transformed Celtic

Former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers with club captain Scott Brown
Former Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers with club captain Scott Brown

Scott Brown has hailed the Brendan Rodgers legacy that has taken Celtic from being the nearly men of Hampden to the brink of the triple-treble.

The Hoops captain will look to lead his men to their third straight domestic clean sweep when they face Hearts in today's William Hill Scottish Cup final.

But the veteran midfielder, who has shrugged off injury fears to insist he will be fit to face Craig Levein's Jambos, remembers a time when Celtic did not always have it their own way at the national stadium.

Under former boss Ronny Deila, Celtic twice suffered heartache as Inverness and Rangers dumped them out in the Scottish Cup's last four.

Before that, Neil Lennon had his own Hampden tribulations with Ross County, Gers, Kilmarnock, Hearts and St Mirren all getting the better of the Northern Irishman's team.

But Lennon will lead out a different Celtic side today after returning as caretaker in the wake of Rodgers' Leicester exit.

It is now three years since Hibernian became the last Scottish side apart from the Hoops to claim a domestic title, but Brown says Rodgers' arrival that summer sparked a change in mindset that has brought on an era of domination.

Asked to think back to Hibs' 2016 triumph over Rangers, Brown said: "I remember feeling jealous that they were in a cup final and we weren't.

"But Brendan came in and changed our mindset.

"We didn't have a great track record at Hampden before that but he made us realise how to change our mindset, how to improve, how to win.

"While he was here we won seven trophies on the trot. Now Neil's here, we need to ensure we make it nine on the spin for him.

"Brendan pushed us to another level. It was great man-management. He made us believe in ourselves.

"Neil's also very good at motivating and he'll do that before the game, too."

Lennon's return was aimed at minimising the upheaval following Rodgers' departure.

With an eighth straight league title already secured, he now needs just one more win to complete the club's latest historic achievement.

It might not be enough to earn him the job permanently but Brown believes Lennon has already earned the gratitude of everyone at the club.

Brown said: "It was always going to be hard when Brendan left but we've got a fantastic manager who as soon as Celtic called, he came right away. The gaffer's been phenomenal since he first came in.

"If he stays the lads will love it. If he doesn't, the lads will thank him for everything he's done for us.

"He loves the club probably more than anyone in that dressing room.''

Brown almost missed his Celtic return earlier this year after holding talks with Australian outfit Western United.

"I had the opportunity to go before a last-minute change of mind," he said. "I've got the chance to pick up a treble-treble now. It's something I wanted to be part of."

SCOTTISH CUP FINAL

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