IT was just over 10 years ago that Scott Brown almost made a dream debut for Scotland.

Playing against the USA, Brown was sent on by manager Walter Smith to replace Nigel Quashie, and towards the end of the match, which was finely poised at 1-1, Brown got on the end of a fine through ball by James McFadden and volleyed home to give Scotland what looked like a match winner.

Unfortunately the flag had gone up for offside and Brown was denied a goal on his debut.

That was in November, 2005, when Brown was just 20 and starring in the midfield for Hibs. Tonight against Denmark, Brown will win his 50th cap for Scotland having made the captaincy of his country his own.

It was while he was Celtic manager in 2007 that Strachan signed Brown for the Hoops, and later he made him his Scotland captain after Darren Fletcher was sidelined by illness.

Last Thursday, Alan Hutton of Aston Villa gained his 50th cap and now Brown will join the select band of Scots on the SFA’s roll of honour.

“It feels like I’m getting old,” said the Scotland captain. “I was told that Kieran Tierney was eight years old when I had my first international cap.” Brown looked back humorously at his debut: “I was a bit of a hot-head for Hibs at the time. Now I’m a hot-head at Celtic. So not too much has changed.”

Brown is now 30 and has matured into the role of captain for both club and country. He retains all his combative nature, but has improved many aspects of his game – his passing has been noticeably better in recent times.

Brown paid tribute to Strachan, the man he said had been the biggest influence in his career.

“He has put a lot of faith in me and I have lot to thank him for,” said Brown. “For signing me, making me the player I am, and understanding the game to make myself a better player since leaving Hibs.

“He shapes us different ways to try and get us on the ball and make us a better team than the opponents. He looks into detail about other teams, he understands the game more than anyone else I have worked with.”

Brown is a cert to stay playing for Scotland through the forthcoming World Cup qualification campaign, but acknowledges the competition for places and the fresh impetus from younger talents.

“You realise you don’t run about as much as they do,” he said. “They have been great. You usually think they are going to be shy and sit in the corner but they have done really well in training and in team meetings as well.

“It’s good for them to come in and try to steal our places but it also keeps us on our toes as well.”

For his part, Strachan is a big admirer of his captain: “He’s been a big part of my career over the last 10 years and he’s made my life more enjoyable, that’s for sure. More interesting, on many occasions.”

He said the word “interesting’ with rather more meaning than snooker legend Steve Davis used to say it.

“Scottish football would be a duller place without Scott Brown,” added Strachan,

“I can see his influence around younger players now, which is terrific. He has not only been a good footballer, but a good help to young players. He’s good with people, he likes being with people, he makes everybody welcome in here.”