By Tom Blackburn
Celtic captain Scott Brown has announced his retirement from international football, in a bid to lengthen his Celtic career.
Brown, 31, has suffered an injury-plagued career with knee and hamstring problems in the second half of last season and says he now needs to concentrate on taking care of his body.
“Firstly, I would like to thank Gordon Strachan for giving me the honour of not only playing for my country, but captaining Scotland in the last campaign,” Brown said, as quoted by the Scottish Daily Record.
“I also owe a debt to every Scotland manager before him who selected me – right back to Walter Smith handing me my senior debut, and the national youth coaches along the way.
“Gordon has been one of the most influential people in my career and I did not want to let him or my country down but over the summer I had a lot of thinking to do.
“It’s no secret that I’ve suffered some injuries in my career and once you get over 30 you have to protect your body more, in any case.
“I’m not the type of player who can coast half-heartedly through a game – I give 100 per cent every time.
“Given the importance of this campaign for Scotland, and the challenges ahead at Celtic, I simply felt that I could not keep up both commitments without either my performances or recovery time suffering.”
Brown has 44 caps for his nation but has never been to a major tournament, with Scotland’s last qualification in 1998 when they competed at the World Cup in France.
He has been a member of the Celtic squad since joining in the summer of 2007 from Hibernian for £5.6million.
The central midfielder has played 369 times for Celtic and is a firm fans favourite, scoring 35 goals in his time mostly spent controlling the midfield.
The Hoops are currently vying for their seventh straight Scottish Premiership title, after winning the league again last season.
They face renewed competition with Rangers back in the top-flight, and their rivals have made their desire to instantly compete at the top clear.
Celtic are currently bidding to reach the Champions League group stages, and got off to a great start in the final qualifying round as they beat Hapoel 5-2 at Parkhead on Wednesday evening.
Brown scored the fifth goal for Celtic, but it was Leigh Griffiths who took the plaudits with two goals – the second of which was a curling free-kick into the top corner from the edge of the box.
In other Celtic news, an attacking duo should return in their expected 4-2-3-1 vs St Johnstone.