Ryan Christie believes Celtic’s loss will be Aberdeen’s gain when Hoops skipper Scott Brown moves to Pittodrie in a player-coach role this summer.
Brown became new Aberdeen manager Stephen Glass’ first addition on Thursday, with the 35-year-old agreeing a two-year deal, which will see him move to the Granite City in the summer and become part of the Reds’ new-look management team.
The move will reunite former Scotland captain Brown with Glass, who he played alongside during the early years of his senior career at Hibernian.
It will bring an end to Brown’s hugely successful 14-year stint at Parkhead, where he has won 10 Premiership titles and amassed more than 600 appearances.
Hoops midfielder Christie credits Brown as being a major influence since his own move to Glasgow from hometown club Caley Thistle in 2015.
Christie, who spent 18 months on loan with the Dons under previous manager Derek McInnes, believes Brown will drive similarly high standards when he takes his first steps into coaching at Pittodrie.
Christie said: “I am not surprised. It was obviously rumoured and he was keeping his cards close to his chest.
“He has done so well over the years. When you look at the age of him now, this season he has been quality again.
“I get to see him train and, for the age he is and the years he has been playing at the top level, he is just incredible.
“The first thing he looks for is hard work and you need to win his respect. He sets the standards in training every day and week in and week out. If you get his respect, then he is quality with you.”
Outgoing Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell revealed the Hoops – who are currently without a permanent manager following the departure of Neil Lennon last month – were desperate to keep Brown beyond the expiry of his contract this summer.
With Rangers having already won the Premiership title, Brown will aim to end his Parkhead career on a high by leading the Hoops to a fifth successive Scottish Cup triumph.
Brown is fresh from captaining Celtic to an unprecedented quadruple treple, and Christie believes a statue would befit his legacy with the club.
Christie added: “The amount of times people have written him off – they said that when Brendan Rodgers came in and he was rejuvenated and came again.
“To be consistently good like that throughout your career is remarkable and players like that don’t come along too often.
“There probably aren’t enough positive things I can say about him. From now until the end of the season, everybody will be talking about him.
“Even when he steps away from Celtic, nobody can say a bad word about him.
“It will probably deserve a statue outside Celtic Park, because he is one of the biggest legends to play for the club.”