By James Black
Former Rangers captain Barry Ferguson has revealed how former Rangers boss Alex McLeish turned his career around when he signed him for Birmingham City.
McLeish was Rangers boss when Ferguson returned to Ibrox after a spell with Blackburn Rovers but the former midfielder has admitted the impact McLeish had in him when he signed for him a second time.
Ferguson had out-stayed his welcome at Rangers after disciplinary issues led to him being stripped of the club captaincy and the 39-year-old has now admitted that he feared he wouldn’t find a new club as the story made headlines around the world.
Ferguson, along with Allan McGregor and a number of others, was involved in a drinking session at the Scotland team hotel after a defeat against the Netherlands and, after the story got out, was pictured making gestures at photographers pitchside in the next match against Iceland.
“There were a few options, I seriously considered going to the MLS just to get away,” Ferguson told Open Goal.
“I remember when I got in trouble and Rangers suspended me for two weeks, I didn’t realise it was global, it was on in America.
“I had offers from the MLS and Australia and there were three or four clubs in the Premier League that wanted me and there was only one that came back – it was Alex.
“We done the deal and I went down there, I had to reinvent myself.
“Everywhere I went it was all about the Scotland thing, even down in Birmingham.
“I signed and they said that I needed to take at least ten pounds off, and I was shocked.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘wait a minute I’m only 12st 9lb, come on man, I’ve been playing at this weight for a long time’ but fitness-wise, it’s the fittest I’ve ever been and I’ve stayed the same weight from when I was down there until now, nearly coming up on 40.”
Ferguson won five league titles, five Scottish Cups and five League Cups at Ibrox before heading back south to join Birmingham.
Ferguson went on to make 84 appearances for Birmingham across two seasons, helping McLeish’s side win the League Cup, before leaving to join Blackpool in 2011.
The Hamilton-born midfielder also picked up 45 caps for Scotland over his career – making his debut in Scotland’s first game after France 98.
In other Rangers transfer news, a £7.5million midfielder is firmly in the running to be the club’s next signing.