Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer has insisted that Scott Brown is the “definition” of a captain after the midfielder found himself in the eye of the storm yesterday afternoon.
A 2-1 win over Rangers opened up a 13-point lead for Celtic at the top the table after an 86th minute winner from James Forrest expunged any hope Rangers had of taking something from the game.
The Ibrox side had forced their way back into an encounter that had looked beyond them in the opening period but there were chaotic scenes as Celtic celebrated a win that effectively seals their eighth successive title.
Brown was criticised by Rangers manager Steven Gerrard for goading the small band of Ibrox supporters as the whistle blew on a tempestuous afternoon, an incident which came after the Celtic captain had been elbowed in the opening half by Aldredo Morelos and shoved in the face by Ryan Kent in the second.
Morelos took his fifth red-card of the season for the first-half clash but Kent escaped sanction for the incident, much to Neil Lennon’s chagrin after the game.
“I think it is important to stick up for your team-mates when you are out there,” said Ajer who was quick to leap to the defence of Brown at the incident with Morelos and then again at the death as carnage unfolded on the pitch. “There was a lot going on so I think you have to be there and standing side by side with your team. That’s important to me. There was a lot of things happening all over the pitch so you have to stick up for your team.
“It was a clear sending off for the first one, I think everyone can see that. I didn’t have as good a view for the second incident but the first one with Morelos was very clear.
“People can criticise Scott but for me he is the definition of how a captain should be. He is a top class captain when he is on the pitch but also in the dressing room too. He is always doing what he can to help the team every day and I think he is the perfect captain. I admire him a lot because he is there to get the best out of the team and he does that.
“He works his socks off.”
Ajer was involved in the ugly scenes at the end of the game but has maintained that there was nothing untoward in Celtic’s celebrations.
“I think when you play such a big game and you know how much it means then there is a lot of excitement there,” he said.” It is natural to celebrate and how it should be. You are happy and you celebrate and it was the same when we were at Ibrox. I think Rangers enjoyed the result back in December.”
Ajer left the game sporting stitches at the side of his eyebrow after an early collision in the game but his most important contribution came with one poked clearance to deny Joe Worrall and another block on James Tavernier in the closing stages.
The first incident had Ajer celebrating as the ball went out of play and the defender has insisted that he savours those moments.
“When I can’t score goals you have to celebrate your own small details that you get in a game so it was a nice block and an important one and I was really delighted,” he smiled. “It is difficult not to show it sometimes.
“That is what you dream of by playing football so that was fantastic.
“It was such a big win for us and it was great to be a part of it. I loved it and I feel as though I am learning and developing in the way that I want to here.
“But although there was a lot of excitement we have to remember that this is just another three points. It was important because it lets us go 13 points clear at the top of the table and we wanted to win after losing at Ibrox back in December.
“It is good and it is a great lead for us to have but we have to keep it going now and try to make sure that we come of Wednesday night’s game against St Mirren with the same result.”