THIS, then, is the noblest Briton of them all. This, then, is the greatest sportsman in the islands’ history. The praise is extravagant, the words both mangled and borrowed from Shakespeare. But the achievements of Andrew Barron Murray are almost gaudy in their brilliance and deserve more than a touch of the dramatic.

Murray is irrevocably and determinedly recognisable as a Scot in his humour, his values and a work ethic that is almost absurdly Caledonian. However, he has won Olympic gold and the Davis Cup for Great Britain and demands to be considered in a wider context than that of his native land. With his instinctive politeness, he has shuffled to the front of the British queue to be considered the best sportsman the islands have produced.

This may provoke some debate, though it will be far more muted than when he won Wimbledon for the first time in 2013. The accumulation of triumph has made him strongly viable as an all-time great to many, though there will still be dissenters. The argument, after all, is subjective and thus it is necessary first to dismiss the claims of others before advancing those of the 29-year-old Scot.

This downgrading of greats in other fields is distasteful but their claims must be scrutinised before they can be discarded. There will be those who support Sir Chris Hoy, a winner of a mere six gold medals, but he faces strong competition over whether he is Britain’s – or indeed Scotland’s – greatest cyclist. Sir Bradley Wiggins and Graeme Obree, respectively, are contenders for these categories. Sir Steve Redgrave, a rower who with five successive Olympic gold medals will be promoted but his chosen discipline is not a global sport and his very longevity serves perversely to compromise its worth.

How deeply competitive is a sport that has one man at the top for 20 years? Lester Piggott, the singular horseman, has form but others would argue that AP McCoy, the tough and accomplished jumps rider, would be in a photo-finish as best jockey. Similarly, cases can be made for Ken Buchanan, Lennox Lewis and Randolph Turpin – among others – as Britain’s greatest boxer. The team sports bristle with contenders from Barry John to George Best to Bobby Charlton and back to Gareth Davies and on to Ian Botham.

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Motor racing has Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark and a veritable clutch of others. David Wilkie surely heads the armada of great British swimmers. Golf has Nick Faldo, Sandy Lyle, the coming Rory McIlroy, and others.

But Murray stands above these sporting giants for at least three reasons. He satisfies the Treble of Criteria for Primus Inter Pares (otherwise known as the MacDonald system of judging greatness almost certainly skewed to suit a Shuggie argument).

First, Murray competes as an individual in a sport that is played on every continent. He thus faces global competition. He also does this as an individual, with no help from teammates on the days when life is tough or in the moments when extraordinary questions are asked and there can be no conferring.

Second, he has triumphed in the greatest tennis era of them all. There have been wonderful rivalries. There have been times when such as Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and others converged but Murray has earned his gold when contenders for GOAT (greatest of all time) have plied their trade. Roger Federer has won more Grand Slams than anyone. Rafael Nadal is the most successful player on clay ever. Novak Djokovic has assumed a mantle of invincibility that only slips occasionally and is only stripped from him by Murray at his most proficient.

The Scot can say he has won Olympic gold by beating Federer on a court where the Swiss player had won seven Wimbledon titles. He can also point out that he has won two of his three Grand Slam titles by beating Djokovic, a great of extraordinary resilience and breath-taking consistency, in SW19 and in Queen’s, New York.

The third, and surely most persuasive point, is Murray’s meeting of the phenomenon criterion. Each individual sport has a range of British contenders. Tennis has Murray and Fred Perry. The Englishman, who died in 1995, lifted eight Grand Slam titles but at a time when they were undoubtedly easier to win. For example, his final Wimbledon triumph was a 6–1, 6–1, 6–0 win over the Baron Gottfried von Cramm which lasted less than 45 minutes.

My knowledge of the baron is limited but it is perhaps safe to say he lacked the indefatigability of Djokovic. This is not to diminish Perry – after all, one can only beat who is put in front of one – but to emphasise that Murray has thrived in an era of profound depth in terms of quality.

He has also, most pertinently, become Britain’s greatest sportsman from the most unlikely of backgrounds. The idea of a Scotsman winning Wimbledon would have been considered absurd just 10 years ago. Now a boy born in Glasgow and nurtured in Dunblane has won Wimbledon twice, taken the US Open, grabbed Olympic gold and almost as a party trick led Great Britain to a Davis Cup victory.

He has come from a hinterland that was barren in terms of success and bereft in terms of substantial hope. Yet he has defied tradition, scorned accepted beliefs and overcome native obstacles in spectacular fashion.

He has helped change the dynamic and imperatives of a global sport. He has become not just an outlier in becoming that most ridiculous of beasts, a native of a cold, rainy country who triumphs at the top of a sport that is played in hot, dry weather.

No, he has become a force of nature.

Halley’s Comet can be seen every 75 or 76 years. Murray broke a Wimbledon drought in 2013 in terms of a Briton winning the men’s singles that had stretched to 77 years. Now he has won twice in three years. He is a star, too, that is not on the wane. He is the best of the best. He may yet become better.