European record breaker Scott Brown remains keen for a crack at Champions League holders Real Madrid (From HeraldScotland)

HE has recovered well from an inauspicious start to his European career with both Hibs and Celtic to become the Scottish player with the most appearances in continental competition.

But Scott Brown, who made his 83rd outing in the Champions League qualifier against Linfield at Parkhead last week, still has goals he would like to achieve.

The 32-year-old, who edged ahead of former Rangers captain Barry Ferguson with his run-out against the Northern Irish outfit, is determined to help the Scottish champions reach the group stages once again in the coming weeks.

Playing against defending champions Real Madrid, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Cristiano Ronaldo et al, in a competitive fixture would fulfil a lifelong ambition for the midfielder.

Helping Celtic to make it through to the knockout rounds of Europe’s premier club competition for the fourth time in their history is another major ambition for the Scotland captain.

Of breaking the record, Brown said: “It’s a great honour. That’s why I came to Celtic, to play in Europe, to play in the Champions League, to play against the best players in the world. That’s why I’ve stayed here so long.

“Tommy Burns jumping on us after we beat Spartak Moscow in the penalty shoot-out in 2007 stands out for me. That was great – daft Tam piling on top of us all.

“That night showed how much it means to reach the group stage. It means a lot for Celtic, both from the money point of view and to play on that stage, to hear that music before kick-off.

“I was lucky enough to get to the last 16 as well. We did that with both Lenny (Neil Lennon) and Gordon (Strachan). It shows you this club can do it once we put our mind to it. We have got the right man in charge now. We are back playing proper football now.

“We haven’t played Real. I would like a kick at a few of them! That would be great. We played them in a friendly in 2012. But I was meeting up with Scotland a couple of days later so it wasn’t worth the flight going out to Philadelphia to play them then back again.”

Brown made his European debut for Hibernian in an Inter Toto Cup match with Vetra of Lithuania back in 2004 and was unable to help the capital club losing 2-1 on aggregate.

“I remember Hibs got pumped!” he said. “We only got into the tournament through the Fair Play place – fair play with me in the team! What are the chances?”

His first game for Celtic on the continent was every bit as forgettable – Strachan’s side lost 3-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk in a Champions League group game in Russia in 2007.

“The gaffer came out screaming at me after just 20 minutes when I was pressing the goalie,” said Brown. “He told me to get to right midfield and settle down. We were 3-0 down at that time.

“The words that came out of Gordon Strachan’s mouth that night were certainly an education for me. “It was a hard one to take, but we managed to get through the group in the end, so it was a good lesson.

“You learn as you go along. The better players to play against, the more you raise your own game. You try and maintain the level they play at. It’s great to play against some of the best players in the world.”

Brown didn’t hesitate for a second when asked who the best player he had come up against in Europe was.

“Iniesta,” he said. “The way he receives the ball, comes deep, drives at you direct, is impressive. His feet are amazing. He runs at you with pace and plays one-twos. It is like you are not even there. It is good to get into it and play against them. Hopefully this team can get to that stage.”

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