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Football: RANGERS LET MY SCOTT GO BECAUSE HE WAS SO WEE; EXCLUSIVE CELTIC SIGNING SENSATION... Now mum Heather so proud he's reached the big time with Celtic.

Byline: BY GARY RALSTON

SCOTT BROWN is about to become a giant in the Scottish game less than a decade after Rangers told him he was too small to make the grade.

Proud mum Heather spoke of her delight yesterday after her son secured a pounds 4.4 million move from Hibs to Celtic in a record transfer deal between Scottish clubs.

Her only sorrow is her father, Derek, isn't around to see his oldest grandson make the move to Parkhead after he passed away last week from kidney failure.

Brown, 21, lives in the shadow of the statue erected four years ago to Rangers and Scotland legend Jim Baxter in Hill of Beath, but now a new Old Firm favourite is about to emerge from the Fife village.

Heather, 45, admitted she's pleased her boy is staying in the SPL because she reckons he was still too young to make a switch to England.

She also revealed how her Scotland international son has recovered from other setbacks since childhood, including dyslexia.

But he refused to be beaten - just as he refused to accept a snub from Rangers when he was only 12-years-old as a setback to his fledgling career.

Heather said: "Scott trained every Friday night with Falkirk and every Tuesday night at Ibrox, but Rangers didn't offer him an S Form at the time because they said he was too small.

"He was still allowed to train with them, but shortly afterwards Hibs came in and offered to sign him and he moved there instead.

"It worked out well in the end because there were more boys from Fife attached to Hibs than through in the west coast and the coaching staff at Easter Road were brilliant with him.

"Guys like Davie MacMillan, Gordon Rae, John Park and Keith Wright helped give Scott a terrific education in the game as he has never wanted to be anything in life but a footballer.

"Scott is dyslexic and the support he received from the teachers at Hill of Beath Primary and Beath High School also really helped bring him on.

"Dyslexia wasn't really picked up on or spoken about a few years ago, but we knew there was a problem because he always tried to hide his reading books.

"Thankfully, he's fine now and I know the schools are also delighted he's doing so well in the game.

"Most people in the village were keen for Scott to join Rangers, but the support we've had since news broke of his transfer to Celtic has been fantastic. Everyone is saying well done and how pleased they are for him and hopefully it helps bring a wee bit of recognition to Hill of Beath as well.

"His uncle Bert, auntie Jeanette and cousin Ryan are especially pleased because they're all Celtic fans and shareholders."

Brown should have played his last Edinburgh derby for Hibs at the weekend, but the defeat by Hearts at Tynecastle was the furthest thing from his mind.

He pulled out the squad in the run-up to the match after the death of his grandfather, 78, from kidney failure.

Heather added: "One of our biggest regrets is my dad isn't around to see Scott sign for such a big club as he would have been so proud.

"He couldn't get out and about much, but he took a lot of pleasure and interest from following Scott's career.

"Dad's death hit Scott hard. He is the oldest grandson and he sat with dad a lot in the last few days, coming over every day after training to keep him amused. I also know how much it pleased my mum, Helen, to see Scott do his duties at the funeral."

Brown's dad, Graeme, and stepdad Brian Fotheringham were both keen players as kids and he comes from a long line of uncles and cousins who have played at all levels of the game.

Mind you, on cold, wintry nights it was most often Heather who had to wrap up tight and make a flask of soup before transporting her boy across the country.

She said: "Scott's dad and stepdad both work so more often than not I would take him to training three nights a week with Hibs - at Meadowbank, Leith Academy and Dalziel Park in Motherwell.

"In the winter I'd pack the car with a sleeping bag, a flask and my book so I could keep warm and occupied while he was out training, but I don't regret a minute.

"It would have been worth it even if he hadn't played for Hibs and now he's signed for Celtic because I'd rather have seen him enjoying football than out walking the streets.

"Scott's daft as a brush - if you ask anyone around here they'll tell you that, but I think he deserves this chance as he has worked so hard for it.

"He was always dedicated to training and never skipped a session. He has also made a lot of sacrifices and his friends were happy to sit in with him on Friday nights and play the computer in his room or kick a ball around the fields at the back of the house.

"From a selfish point of view I'm glad he's staying in Scotland. I didn't think he was quite ready for a move to England. In a few years, maybe, but he is still only 21 and has a way to go yet."

Heather admits she and Brian had their ears glued to the phone on Monday night as news of the transfer broke, while relatives from across the UK also had a hotline to the family home to see how transfer talks were progressing.

His younger sister Fiona, 20, and brother, Stewart, 19, are also looking forward to their brother joining the Hoops, but Heather insists a big-money move and finances beyond his wildest dreams won't swell his head.

She said: "Scott has always been good with money and mindful of pensions and investments to give him security for the long term and that won't change.

"His move to Celtic is beginning to sink in. We always knew they were among the frontrunners, but it was a nervous time because other clubs had declared their interest.

"All the transfer talk at the start of the year was also very difficult to cope with but Scott never let it get him down.

"My husband was on the phone every 10 minutes on Monday night getting updates before the transfer was agreed and, in the end, we sat up at home until 2am drinking tea.

"Even after we went to bed we couldn't get to sleep and we're absolutely delighted it's all done and dusted. In fact, you could say we're cock-a-hoop."

CAPTION(S):

IN THE BIG TIME NOW: Celtic-bound Scott Brown was rejected by Rangers for being too small; THAT'S MY BHOY: Heather Brown is delighted for her son
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 16, 2007
Words:1152
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