Scott Brown: I’d love to see a player come out at Celtic

We're a big family club at Celtic and no matter who you are, what you are or where you come from we’d welcome you with open arms

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Sometimes I have to be the guy that goes into the dressing room and is horrible. I think I talk a good game, but you’ve got to back it up, too, and I think I do that as well as I possibly can.

Every footballer’s got their opinions but I think Instagram, Twitter, etcetera has made it harder to voice them. Because people don’t have to show their face now, it’s easy to be a keyboard warrior and a troll. It’s easier to do that than it is to say it to somebody’s face. That’s not me, I’m openly going to say it to your face whether you like it or not. It’s part and parcel of learning.

I’m not always gonna be right, but I’ve played long enough that I understand the game more than the younger ones coming through. It’s tough for them because I remember coming through at Hibs and there were older players in their thirties, and I was going ‘fucking hell, look at them, they’re dying a death!’. Now people are looking at me and saying that about me!

So, as much as it’s about being a leader, the young ones keep us young and ticking over in training. They’re coming through and they’re going to blossom, they’ll have 10 years to get where I am, and then they’ll be allowed to give a bit of jip back.

Everyone’s gone Instagram and Twitter daft and everyone has their freedom of speech. They feel they can say whatever they want on it. For me, there’s no coming back from it. I tweet and I use Instagram, but I just talk about Celtic stuff. If people want to give me a bit of grief on social media, I don’t mind that.

I don’t bite back at anyone but it’s getting harder and harder. I’ve had teammates that have been racially abused through social media as well as the terraces and it’s really hard to take, to be honest. I’ve seen so much racism toward my teammates and the impact that can have on them and the team. It is awful.

You can take the usual football banter – being booed on the ball, being called shite, jokes from rival fans – but that’s different to abuse.

They’re my mates and they’re getting bullied and racially abused and it’s not nice to see that. Celtic are a club that are family-based, and the lads in the team stick together too, so we find it really tough to take when we see that level of abuse directed at players.

I’d love to see a player come out at Celtic

Celtic are a big club, and we welcome anybody. No matter who you are, what you are or where you come from we’d welcome you with open arms. It’s a big family club. The club is open to anybody.

Being gay or bisexual shouldn’t matter in football. As soon as you put that strip on, you’re one of us. No matter who you are, you’re a Celtic player. It must be so hard for a gay footballer, they say there’s one in every changing room and to hide it must be tough.

I hope that someone does feel comfortable to come out because I can’t imagine having to hide who you are. Not coming out to the lads around you must be so hard, but I know that at Celtic Park we would be accepting no matter what.

I’d love to see a player feel comfortable enough to come out at Celtic. We get a tough deal up in Scotland, I think everyone down in England thinks that it’s a much harder place to deal with but we’re very soft-hearted beneath it all sometimes.

El Hadji Diouf

I’d like people to know that I am there. I’d never judge someone for their sexuality or have a problem with it and I’d be happy to sit down and chat to someone about it. If they wanted to come to me silently instead of to other people I’d totally understand that.

I know what a huge step it must be and if someone wanted to speak to me confidentially I’d be there for them. Some people might want to quietly tell their family, friends, teammates and I’d be there to support them.

Being captain of Celtic and a captain of Scotland for years, I know that it’s always going to be so hard for somebody to come out. No matter who does it or when it is that someone eventually comes out, it’ll be brilliant for football as a whole. It’s going to be incredibly tough for that first person, but I believe it will be great for them and it’ll be great for football to become more accepting. Whoever does come out in football will get a lot of respect and they deserve that.

I’m as fit as I’ve ever been

People said I should’ve retired three or four years ago. But I went on, won Player of the Year, we’ve won eight titles in a row, which no one would’ve expected, so I’ve been reinventing myself and proving a lot of people wrong.

I’ve got two years left on my contract. I’ll be 36 then, and there are not many players that are still playing at big clubs at that age, so it’s going to be hard for me to still push the limits of the young ones coming through. I still love it and I’m as fit as I’ve ever been. Until those fitness levels and sharpness totally go, I’ll be here.

One day, those legs will just collapse, and that’ll be it. I’ll have a wide load sign on my arse then! It’s what I’ve done for the last 17 years of my life and it’s become second nature. Giving up something I love like that is going to be so hard, but you’ve got to come to terms with the fact that your body cannot go on forever.

It’s my fucking worst nightmare, leaving football and having nothing to do.

But it’s mind over matter, pushing on as hard as you can until you realise one day that’s you done, you’re not playing in front of 60,000 fans again. If you want to continue playing you’ve got to slowly start going down the levels, and I don’t know if I want to do that – I want to finish at the top playing against top-quality Champions League and SPL players.

Next up for me is coaching, I’ve been doing my licences. I start my pro licence around Christmas/New Year time, that’s a two-year course and that bounces in with when I want to retire. With all those badges, I’ll have everything I need to become a coach.

So, when I do retire, if a job comes up or I want to go into coaching, I’ll be set. Celtic have been great, they’ve offered me the chance to come back in as a coach as soon as I retire. That’s great from them, but I’ve got a lot of big decisions. Whether I go straight from playing to coaching, whether I take six months off for myself, and whether I’d coach the lads I’d been playing with or go with the younger lads. So, I’ve got to sit down and work it all out.

* Scott Brown was speaking exclusively to us for our Pitch Invader magazine, which is available in all Paddy Power stores now.

All the odds for the 2019/20 football season are over on PaddyPower.com

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