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Page last updated at 20:53 GMT, Tuesday, 6 July 2010 21:53 UK

Barry Ferguson calls time on Scotland career

Barry Ferguson
Birmingham City midfielder Ferguson will not resurrect his Scotland career

By Chris McLaughlin

After a spectacular international fall from grace, Barry Ferguson has decided not to take up the chance to bounce back and make amends.

At the age of 32, he's decided to concentrate on club football and pass up the chance of turning out for his country.

So, should fans be surprised? And just what has led to the decision?

Following the 'Boozegate' affair, it seemed the then Rangers captain was public enemy number one.

A late night drinking session followed by rude gestures by Ferguson and Allan McGregor from the substitutes bench during Scotland's World Cup qualifier against Iceland led to front and back page criticism.

The fans were furious, the Scottish FA was seething.

Few then would have predicted that the door would once again be opened to him just months later.

Scotland manager Craig Levein
Levein hoped to coax Ferguson back into international duty

But as the Scots' World Cup qualifying campaign crumbled and manager George Burley stumbled from one poor result to the next, the writing was soon on the wall.

There was to be no widespread regime change at the SFA, but a new man was found and he wanted to wipe the slate clean and start again.

That meant a fresh start and an olive branch for Ferguson and his fellow international exile, McGregor.

Indeed, it was one of the first questions asked of Burley's successor, Craig Levein, as he took his seat in a packed media room at Hampden Park in December.

He made it clear that qualification for the European Championships in 2012 was to be his priority.

"There is an inclusion policy here. Everyone is in. If they don't want to turn up, that's up to them," said Levein in his maiden media conference as national boss.

It was hardly a begging letter, but the former Dundee United manager boss was making it clear that if players wanted to play, they would be considered.

McGregor took up the chance and made it clear that he was in. The Rangers goalkeeper apologised for his previous behaviour and was welcomed back.

It would not to be so simple for Ferguson.

The Scotland scandal resulted in him being stripped of the captaincy at his beloved Rangers and he was far from happy.

A move to Birmingham City soon followed and the midfielder was keen to forget the past and leave his troubles at the border.

But he also left his family at the border and that would play a significant part in his decision not to return to the Scotland set-up.

Barry is at the stage of his life where he has to consider his physical condition very carefully

Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish

Levein and Ferguson spoke on the phone and manager told player that he had a decision to make. Player told manager that an answer would be given before the start of the new season.

Levein had his suspicions that there would be no turning back.

His cause was not helped when Birmingham manager and former Scotland boss Alex McLeish made it clear that Ferguson should think hard about a return.

"Barry is at the stage of his life where he has to consider his physical condition very carefully," said McLeish.

"He also has to think about the longevity of his career and he must also consider that he's been battered publicly a little."

It was a public glimpse into what the City boss really thought of a Ferguson return - he certainly was not offering to pay for his flight home.

Back home though, Ferguson's family were also being canvassed about what impact an international return would have on them.

Ferguson was using international breaks in the club schedule to spend time with his wife and children and that would be hard to sacrifice.

And it seems that a combination of club commitments and family concerns led to the call that Levein had ultimately been expecting.

Thanks but no thanks was the decision.

After 45 caps and one or two almighty mistakes it is finally the end of the road for Ferguson and Scotland.

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see also
No Scotland return for Ferguson
06 Jul 10 |  Football
Ferguson unsure on Scots comeback
08 Feb 10 |  Football
Barry Ferguson's career in photos
17 Jul 09 |  Scottish Premier
Gers' Ferguson 'harshly treated'
06 May 09 |  Rangers
Peat demands Scots drinks probe
03 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Scots end Gers pair's cap career
03 Apr 09 |  Internationals

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