Player Profile: Barry Ferguson
Date of Birth: 02/02/1978
Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Position: Centre midfield
National Team: Scotland
International Caps: 45
International Goals: 3
With almost 300 appearances across two spells it’s fair to say Barry Ferguson is a modern-day Rangers legend. Born in Hamilton into a Rangers mad family, it was inevitable Ferguson would one day play for the Gers like his older brother Derek.
In 1991, aged 13, Barry started training with the Rangers youth team before signing his first professional contract in 1994. Prior to that he’d been rejected by the Scotland Schoolboys team for being too small. He’d eventually have the last laugh though of course captaining Scotland in the early 2000s.
Three years after turning professional Ferguson finally made his debut for the Rangers senior side. It came in the final game of the 1996/97 season at Hearts. Rangers lost 3-1, but it didn’t matter as they’d already secured the league title finishing ahead of bitter rivals Celtic by five points.
The following season Ferguson’s playing time was limited, and it wasn’t until Dick Advocaat replaced Walter Smith in 1998 that the then 20-year-old was given a chance to nail down a first team spot. And boy did he take it. Ferguson was instrumental in Rangers’ 1998/99 treble winning season. His excellent form continued the following campaign and he was rewarded with a six-year contract extension.
Rangers retained the Premier League and League Cup that season as Ferguson went on to be named the 1999/2000 Scottish Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year. In just two years Ferguson had established himself as a key player for his boyhood club. He was the engine of the team. If he played well then, typically speaking, so did Rangers. He made them tick. The Ibrox faithful loved him, and rightly so.
In August 2000 Ferguson was involved in a hotel brawl following a humiliating defeat in the Old Firm Derby earlier in the day. Rangers were hammered 6-2 at Ibrox and Ferguson saw red ten minutes from time. He then spent that evening drowning his sorrows in a hotel bar, still wearing his club tracksuit, before the skirmish took place.
Later that season Ferguson was named Rangers captain at the age of just 22. He replaced Lorenzo Amoroso who’d made a number of crucial mistakes, one of which resulted in Rangers crashing out of the Champions League. The newly promoted captain went on to lift the League Cup and Scottish Cup that season.
The 2002/03 campaign would be Ferguson’s final season during his first spell at Ibrox and it turned out to be his most prolific. Bombing on from midfield he bagged 18 goals in all competitions as Rangers went on to win a domestic treble. His form attracted the attention of several Premier League clubs including Blackburn Rovers who, at the time, were managed by fellow Scot Graeme Souness. It wasn’t long before Ferguson swapped Glasgow for Lancashire for a fee of £7.5m.
He made just 15 league appearances in his first season at Ewood Park before being made club captain in the summer of 2004. However, Ferguson struggled to replicate the form he’d shown just two years prior at Rangers. During the 2005 January transfer window he returned to Ibrox for £4.5m, having made just 36 appearances for Rovers.
Back in Scotland Ferguson was back to his best and it was like he’d never been away. His return that season saw Rangers claim another league title.
Ferguson was once again handed the Rangers captaincy at the start of the 2005/06 season, but his playing time was limited due to a number of serious injuries.
In December 2007, at Caledonian Thistle, Ferguson was involved in a dressing room bust up, which resulted in him being stripped of the captain’s armband. He was accused of undermining then manager Paul Le Guen, which consequently resulted in the midfielder being dropped from the first team squad. Less than a month later Le Guen resigned as manager of Rangers, and Ferguson was almost immediately reinstated as club captain and was back in the first team picture.
Ferguson spent the next two years in and out of the team, with the Rangers side securing back to back League Cups, the Scottish Cup and yet another League title. They were a force to be reckoned with both domestically and in Europe where they reached the 2008 UEFA Cup final. Despite making his 400th appearance for the club that game, the Glasgow giants went down to Zenit Saint Petersburg at the City of Manchester Stadium.
The following season would prove to be his last for Rangers. Another hotel drinking session, this time with teammate Allan McGregor, sparked outrage across the country. Things were made even worse when the pair were seen making obscene gestures from the bench in Scotland’s game against Iceland just days later. Ferguson was stripped of his captaincy for both club and country and that summer he’d again leave Ibrox for England, this time Birmingham City.
Ferguson signed a three year contract at St Andrew’s after a fee of £1.2m was agreed between the two sides. He joined up with former boss Alex McLeish and was an instant success. His form throughout the season earned him the Birmingham City Players’ Player of the Year award in his first year with the club.
He was also part of the famous League Cup winning side, playing the last hour of the final against Arsenal with a broken rib. That experience pretty much summed him up, he was solid. The Birmingham fans loved him, but that summer he was sold to Blackpool with the club needing to reduce the wage bill following relegation from the Premier League.
Like most clubs he played for, Ferguson was handed the captains armband replacing compatriot Charlie Adam who’d left the seaside club for Liverpool. But playing time at Blackpool was limited. So much so he spent half a season on loan at Fleetwood where he’d make just a handful of appearances.
His career was coming to an end, it was clear to see and on January 21st 2014 Ferguson was appointed caretaker manager of Blackpool with the club fighting relegation. He won just three games in twenty but avoided the drop by two points. He left the club that summer before announcing his retirement from professional football and what a career he had.
Ferguson made his full international debut against Lithuania at the age of 20. He’d go on to make another 42 appearances over 11 years and in 2004 was given the captain’s armband.
Scotland famously did the double over then World Champions France during the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. But it wasn’t enough to secure them a spot at the tournament. Ferguson was banned from the national team in 2009 and, despite having the ban lifted a few years later, failed to make another appearance for the Tartan Army.
Where is Barry Ferguson now?
Today Barry Ferguson manages Lowland League side Kelty Hearts after a brief spell as Clyde manager. In 2016 he guided The Bully Wees to the playoff final but lost 3-2 against Queen’s Park.
Away from management Ferguson has dabbled in punditry. He has a column in the Daily Record and often features on PLZ Soccer, an online football show.
Did you know? Interesting facts about Barry Ferguson
– In 2004 Ferguson was inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame aged just 26.
– No player has made more appearances (82) for Rangers in European competitions than Ferguson.