With the burning Arabian sunshine blazing down from the clear blue skies above, many of the stresses and strains of being mid-way through a footballing crusade in the depths of a Scottish January freeze have melted away for Scott Brown.
That was the thought that struck as the Celtic captain strolled around the club’s grand Dubai hotel, the base during the Ladbrokes Premiership leaders’ winter break.
Having just returned from a morning training session with the dramatic backdrop of some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers behind him, the towering personality of the 31-year-old was evident as he mingled in the hotel foyer beneath dazzling lights, before greeting the jet-lagged press pack huddled in the corner with a typical smile and a joke.
On the face of it, sitting in these luxurious surroundings, Brown didn’t have a care in the world.
However, there are some things a good tan can’t completely cover up.
During the chat, the conversation eventually gets around to the subject of Brown’s international future. “Here we go, I was waiting on the first one!” he laughs as the subject of whether or not he will extend his international return come up.
Two months on from returning to the international fold to lead his country into battle against England at Wembley in that 3-0 defeat, the 31-year-old is now torn on the subject over whether or not to extend his time under Gordon Strachan.
Scotland’s next World Cup qualifier will be at home to Slovenia in March before England come to Hampden in June and Brown confessed he is still a man conflicted over a decision he knows is all or nothing.
“Is this the biggest decision of career? Yeah, I’d say it probably is,” said the midfielder. “The first big decision was whether to retire. I never actually wanted to do felt at the time it was the right thing to do.
“Now it’s retire again or continue?
“I don’t want to be the guy who comes back in then chops and changes his mind. I can’t say I’m coming back but I’m just not playing in the England game.
“I can’t do that, that wouldn’t be fair on anyone. I can’t pick and choose my games so I know I need to make a decision one way or the other.”
Brown first retired from international football at the start of the season in a bid to focus solely on pro-longing his career at club and level and propelling him back to the tenacious force he once was.
However, under Brendan Rodgers the Celtic captain has arguably gone way beyond that as he now looks like a man, albeit the wrong side of 30, in the prime of his life.
Part of that success was allowing his body to rest and recuperate properly over the summer ahead of the Champions League qualifiers, something that wouldn’t be the case if he was to line up against England at Hampden.
“Scotland play on June 10 and we’re back in for the Champions League qualifiers on June 20,” explained Brown. “I had six weeks off [last year] and my entire body got a rest.
“I chilled and did nothing for that whole time. I literally did nothing, I didn’t even go to the gym. I just relaxed and I’d never had that before.
“I then came back for pre-season fully focused and ready to go, and I’ve enjoyed every single moment, instead of coming back for pre-season going: ‘here we go again.’
“It’s tough, especially here where everybody is fighting for a position. We have a great squad with a lot of new bodies coming in as well so you’ve got to be selfish sometimes.
“But then I want to play for Scotland.”
He added: “Last season I had six weeks off which allowed me to recharge my batteries and chill.
“I then went into pre-season knowing I was 100 percent ready to go and not ‘I’m just back from holiday.’
“That’s the biggest thing I’m thinking about.”
It is a mature and considered approach from a man who is still a big kid at heart, even by his own admission. “I’ll never mature properly, but I’m getting there slowly” he chuckles.
He does himself a disservice. Even during a 20-minute chat in a lavish hotel foyer, it is clear the gravity of the dilemma facing him is weighing heavy on his mind as he wishes to stay loyal to the two men he arguably looks up to in the game the most.
At Celtic, Brendan Rodgers has transformed Brown into the dynamic heart of his unbeaten domestic team, and a key cog of the outfit that progressed into the Champions League. Being fit, available and at the peak of his powers for Rodgers during this summer’s European qualifiers is of paramount importance to the midfielder.
Equally, he is also wanting to be a support to Scotland boss Gordon Strachan, the man who first carved out a Celtic career for Brown almost a decade ago, as he desperately tried to kickstart Scotland’s ailing World Cup qualifying campaign.
They are two men he will consult before reaching his conclusion.
“I will speak to Brendan about it and I’ll speak to Gordon as well. Between the three of us we’ll come up with a solution.
“It is what it is – I’m not set on not coming back just as I’ve not decided to stay.
“In the next couple of weeks I’ll sit down with both of them and know before the game in March.
“They won’t be pushing me either way. They get on great together. Gordon knows it’s my decision but so does Brendan.
“No matter what happens it’ll be 100 percent my decision.
“But I will speak to both of them.”