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I was happy to hit the canvas after taking this punch; Hoops hardman Brown showed softer side by signing painting of his Old Firm KO for charity.

Byline: MICHAEL GANNON IN ZURICH m.gannon@dailyrecord.co.uk

IT says it all about Scott Brown's Scottish football's bogeyman status that he can be on the end of a haymaker and still be classed by some as the bad guy.

The Celtic skipper took one on the chops from Ryan Kent as Celtic all but sealed the Premiership title in March with a dramatic 2-1 win against old foes Rangers.

But much of the aftermath was about Brown the wind-up merchant. Kent got lamped with a retrospective two-game ban for his left hook, while Alfredo Morelos had earlier been sent packing for booting the Hoops captain and then Andy Halliday copped a suspension for losing the plot.

Naturally, Brown was in the thick of all three clashes and copped a lot of flak.

Parkhead punters don't want their on-field assassin to change but there is another side to the skipper some people don't see.

Artist Gio Thomson's incredible painting of Brown getting sparked by Kent might not have been the most flattering but the Parkhead playmaker proved he's happy to leave the fierce rivalry on the park.

Brown could've been forgiven for giving it a bum steer when asked if he'd sign a framed picture of the Kent slug that was being put up for charity.

Instead he was comfortable getting on board and, with the Rangers man also offering a signature, it was Macmillan Cancer Support in Lanarkshire who were the big winners after receiving a bumper cheque.

Broony might be seen as a bad boy on the pitch but he knows there's more to life off it having suffered tragedy with the loss of his sister to the cruel disease a decade ago.

And while he loves nothing more than winding up his rivals, he can also be the bigger man and let bygones be bygones when it comes to things that really matter.

Brown said: "The picture was true. It was Gio who did it. I'm happy to do it if it's for a charity or maybe someone who is in a bad place.

"If someone's willing to bid for it then I'm willing to help out.

"Yeah, I'm getting punched in the photo but I've been punched by better people! I'll probably be punched in the future ...

"It's nice to be nice sometimes. There's a lot of people who go through hardships, families who've had hard times, especially with things like cancer.

"If you can help out I don't see any harm with a signature on a photo and Ryan and me were happy to help out.

"Gio said if he could get the two of us to sign it then someone would buy it with the proceeds going to charity.

"It was a good picture - probably the best I've looked!" The Mr Nice Guy routine won't last forever though with hostilities set to be resumed in a few weeks. Brown has already kicked off the war of words after shrugging off the Gers' title talk and he's in beast mode in pre-season already.

He might be 34 now but he's still leading from the front when it comes to the summer running during Celtic camp in Austria and Switzerland.

Even during his short break Brown was working in the background on his coaching badges but he insisted he's not ready to give up the on-field fight any time soon.

He said: "It is hard work but I'm still keeping up with the young ones.

"It's good to get back. You get your holiday in and just go again. It's natural for us to be going for 12 months.

"I got about 12 days off as I had my A Licence as well. I started it four or five years ago and was working with the Under-20s.

"When Brendan Rodgers came in he knocked that on the head because he wanted me to concentrate on football as there would be loads of time to do what I wanted at the end of my career.

"He was always good that way and that's how it will be now. I want to play as long as I can.

"I've got two seasons left and we will see where we go from there. I'll be 36 by then and on a slippery slope!" Brown is still at the top of the mountain right now though and aims to stay there.

Celtic fans might be getting flustered with talk of new signings and the prospect of losing Kieran Tierney but Brown is chilled out in the sweltering Swiss hills.

His sense of calm has been helped having Neil Lennon back in the dugout following the dramatic departure of Rodgers back in February.

Brown said: "The manager has been fantastic since coming back. We were doing the running the other day and he almost joined in. Almost! But he was there cheering us on when most managers would leave us to it.

"There is always going to be changes in the way we play. It will be different at times."

There could be a new-look Celtic but Brown will continue to come out swinging.

I'm getting punched in the photo but I've been punched by better people SCOTT BROWN ON BEING HIT BY RANGERS' RYAN KENT
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 2, 2019
Words:876
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