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BROTHER Walfrid, Jock Stein, Jimmy Johnstone and Billy McNeill have all had their enormous contributions to Celtic recognised with the erection of statues in their honour outside Parkhead over the years.
Scott Brown insisted yesterday the important role that chief executive Peter Lawwell has played in the unprecedented success the Glasgow club have savoured in the past two decades is deserving of exactly the same sort of accolade.
“He’s been a driving force here for over 17 years,” said current captain Brown after it was announced that Lawwell will stand down from his position in June.
“He’s made us the club we are. He’s won Nine-In-A-Row, won quadruple trebles. His legacy is huge. Look at the players he’s brought in, how well the club is sitting after all these years. Compare where we were when he first came in to where we are now.
“He’s built Lennoxtown, he’s improved Celtic Park, he’s always trying to make the club better. That’s what a good CEO does. He drives us on and wants us to be the best that we possibly can. To be fair, he should have a statue at this rate.”
File photo dated 22-01-2020 of Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell. Issue date: Friday January 29, 2021. PA Photo. Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell is to retire in the summer after 17 years with the Scottish Premiership champions. See PA story SOCCER
Brown has an impish sense of humour and his suggestion the Celtic chief executive should have a sculpture alongside their founder and legendary former manager, winger and captain was made in jest.
Still, the midfielder understands as well as anyone just how instrumental Lawwell has been in the Parkhead club becoming the dominant force in Scotland during his lengthy and trophy-laden tenure. He certainly feels he owes him a great deal personally.
The 61-year-old brokered the £4.4 million deal which took the former Hibernian player from Easter Road to Parkhead way back in 2007 and has been a constant source of encouragement and support ever since.
Brown, whose sister Fiona tragically passed after a lengthy illness the year after he signed for Celtic, admitted that his personal touch has often been greatly appreciated.
12/03/17 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP.CELTIC v RANGERS.CELTIC PARK – GLASGOW.Celtic owner Dermot Desmond (left) with Chief Executive Peter Lawwell.
“He has been fantastic over the years,” he said. “Peter was the one who paid the money for me to come from Hibs. He gave me the opportunity, along with Gordon Strachan and Tommy Burns, to play for Celtic.
“When I first met him we left other people to talk money. Peter told me all about Celtic, it being a family club, how I’d love playing in front of the fans, what it means to him and his family and how we were going to grow going forward.”
Brown added: “He’s been huge for me personally because I’ve had a few family issues. Peter was always the first to pick up the phone. When there were hard times, he always picked up the phone to make sure I was okay.
“He would take the opportunity to drive through and see me. Or I could always drive through to speak to him. He was always there. A little text message here and there. I probably wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for Peter. He has been fantastic for myself, for the rest of the lads as well.”
27/11/16 BETFRED SCOTTISH LEAGUE CUP FINAL . ABERDEEN v CELTIC (0-3) . HAMPDEN – GLASGOW . (L/R) Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell, Scott Brown and Kolo Toure celebrate with the cup.
Lawwell has come in for scathing criticism and personal abuse during the 2020/21 campaign as Celtic have performed poorly both at home and abroad and seen their hopes of completing 10-In-A-Row disappear as a result. Many fans have called for the chief executive to be sacked.
However, Brown knows just how much their disappointing season has hurt the lifelong supporter and is hopeful that in time he will be remembered for everything that he accomplished during his tenure.
“At the end of the day, Peter is a diehard Celtic fan and he wants us to win,” he said. “He puts in as much effort as the players do, in terms of how hard he works off the field. He has worked tirelessly to make sure the club is established throughout Europe.
“It’s up to other people how they think about him. But Peter knows what he’s done here, things like building an unbelievable training facility, making sure we have 60,000 fans coming in every week, having the standing section.
“He’s brought in some great players over the years and some unbelievable managers. I remember there were 12,000 fans at Celtic Park when Brendan Rodgers came in.
06/05/18 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP.HEARTS v CELTIC .TYNECASTLE PARK – EDINBURGH.Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (L) speaks with Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell..
“Peter’s always wanted this club to be as strong as it possibly can be. He was definitely a fan in the boardroom. He supported us through thick and thin. He always knew there would be ups and downs and bumps along the way.
“It’s just sad to see him go after all he’s done for me and the rest of the lads. This club is his life, he’s here day in day out and loved every single moment of it. We’re devastated he’s leaving.
“People should remember him for how well he’s done. He’s won 29 trophies in his 17 years here which is incredible for anyone to have on their CV when they retire.”
One of Lawwell’s final acts could be to offer Brown, whose current contract expires in the summer, an extension. The skipper, who has lost his first team place to Ismaila Soro, admitted there had been talks about his future. However, he is relaxed about the situation and is happy to see what transpires.
File handout photo dated 05-03-2015 of provided by JSHPIX.CO of Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell during a a kit deal photocall at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Issue date: Friday January 29, 2021. PA Photo. Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell is to retire in
“Peter and I have spoken about that a couple of times,” he said. “We’ll sit down in the next couple of months and talk about what’s happening.
“It’s more to see how I’m feeling, if I feel I can continue playing. If I can and it’s at Celtic, it’s at Celtic. If not, it’s maybe coaching. I don’t know, to be perfectly honest. There’s still a long way to go until the end of the season so I’ve still got a lot of time to make my mind up.”