SCOTT BROWN comes across as not being in the slightest bit scary.
Which may surprise plenty of those he once seemed to enjoy terrorising.
He even makes the revelation that back up in Scotland would have plenty choking on their porridge, insisting: “I’m actually a people person.”
This is the same Scott Brown who in his former life made himself a legend – but not just because he was captain of Celtic and won nine titles in a row.
There were also a staggering career-long 202 yellow cards and nine reds shown to a midfield warlord who gave the impression he’d probably drink from the skulls of the opposition if he got the chance.
As he says himself, he felt he needed to be “horrible” – which is why he shaved his head, hoping to intimidate opponents and present an aggressive image far removed from his real self.
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Now he is head coach of Fleetwood Town for their first-ever FA Cup fifth-round tie, at runaway Championship leaders Burnley on Wednesday night.
And life, now, is very different indeed.
He has grown his hair, stylish and sleek, at the behest of his three kids, while the smile and the handshake are warm as they come.
The figure of hate of north of the border outside of Parkhead has been replaced by an affable 37-year-old loving not just the new experience of his first job as a manager.
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But also of being able to enjoy a meal or a pint with his close friend and No 2 Stephen Whittaker without having to look over his shoulder.
The real Scott Brown is now finally able to stand up.
The skinhead look, for instance, has gone.
For it was just part of the plan to help him dominate games.
“It was intimidation,” he declares, then adds with massive understatement: “And it worked quite well….”
Even one of Brown’s first signings after he joined Fleetwood, goalkeeper Jay Lynch, admitted: “If you look at his on-field antics he was quite scary.
“But he is very calm and knowledgeable.”
Brown stresses: “I was always chilled off the park and in the dressing room I never saw it as me being the centre of attention, captain of Celtic or not.
“I’ve always been a people person – but at the same time I was able to flick.
“As soon as I walked over that white line I became somebody completely different and I would soldier, I would battle.
“But when you become a manager you don’t really have to be that horrible person all the time.
“Make no mistake, I can still flick that switch, but what I try to do is set standards.
“When I started out at Hibs I believed I had to run harder, train harder, work better than anyone to make it through and that all helped my build endurance.
It's nice to be semi-anonymous, working with people I never knew, in a country where no one really knows me.
“I set those standards for myself because I knew I had to and I’m pleased that these players here – they want to attain those high standards to.
“They’ll need them against Burnley. I know that.
“But the work and progress of the last weeks will give them a real chance.”
Brown, who hung up his boots a year ago after a short spell as player coach at Aberdeen, now also has the chance to relax when he’s off duty.
As the anti-hero of most of Scottish football he could rarely do so, explaining that even having a night out could be a walk on the wild side for him.
He says: “Me and Whitts can go for a pint to watch the football no problem now, which is great, I’m not going to lie.
“I can go shopping and I get peace, I get quiet, I can go for a meal and it’s not like, ’Aw, no, which one of us is going to get abused today?’
“Nobody around here worries too much about what might have gone on when I was a player.
“Back home it was difficult to just have some space and the thing is, I’m not great with my mouth sometimes.
“So if someone gives me it, I’ll give them it back and the problem is that it becomes not OK for you to say what you want but it is OK for them to say whatever they want to say to you.
“So it is nice to be, if you like, semi-anonymous, working with people I never knew, in a country where no one really knows me.
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“Everybody knew me in Scotland and I knew them.
“This is different. This is a fresh start, and I’m loving it.”
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