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Barry Ferguson confirms Scotland retirement

Barry Ferguson
Ferguson has been capped 45 times for Scotland

Former Scotland captain Barry Ferguson has decided to continue his exile from international football.

The 32-year-old incurred a ban in April 2009 for misdemeanours while on Scotland duty but manager Craig Levein had hoped to coax the midfielder back.

However, Ferguson wants to concentrate solely on his career with Birmingham.

"I am naturally disappointed not to call on Barry's abilities and experience for the Euro 2012 qualification campaign," said Levein.

Ferguson and his then-Rangers colleague, Allan McGregor, were involved in a late-night drinking session under former manager George Burley after a World Cup qualifying defeat in Holland.

Both were banned by the Scottish Football Association after making gestures while on the substitutes' bench against Iceland a few days later.

Having also been frozen out at Rangers as a result of his indiscretions, Ferguson subsequently moved to Birmingham to join his former Ibrox manager, Alex McLeish, and enjoyed an excellent season in the English Premier League.


Now Ferguson has made his decision, Levein told BBC Scotland that he could not foresee a change of heart from either party.

"I'm not hiding the fact that I'm disappointed," he said. "I wouldn't have asked Barry to come back and play for us if I didn't feel that he had something to add to the squad.

"I wanted to give him an opportunity and he declined that opportunity. I don't see a way back from that. I now have to look after the players who have committed themselves to Scotland.

"I can't say I'm surprised. I got a feeling when I spoke to him in February that some of the problems he had were insurmountable.

"His family are still in Scotland and he's down in Birmingham, so the international breaks are an opportunity for him to get home and see his wife and kids. That's a pretty big thing to give up.

"On top of that, he had a good season playing at the top level in England and I think he thought if he concentrates all his efforts on club level his career will last longer at that level."

Ferguson, who made 45 appearances for Scotland, may have anticipated some flak from supporters but Levein insists that issue was not raised.

"That never came up in the conversations we had," he explained. "I think he's a big enough man to realise that he would get a little bit of stick if he did come back.

"But, if that played any part in his decision, he certainly did not make me aware of it.

"A player of Barry's experience would have been good but that isn't to be the case.

"And I'm pretty fortunate since it's one area of the pitch that we have a lot of quality players in. We have a good strength in depth in midfield."

Rangers and Scotland forward Steven Naismith took a different view, saying Ferguson's continued absence from the Scotland squad is a "massive loss".

"We felt it at Rangers when he left here," said Naismith of his former team-mate.

"On the international stage, you need players that have got a lot of experience. I think Fergie was probably the one with the most experience out of the whole squad so it'll be a big loss but an opportunity for the likes of Kevin Thomson and guys like that.

"Graham Dorrans has done really well for West Brom so there's another candidate as well.

"The likes of Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have prolonged their career from stopping the international football first and foremost and I can understand totally why Barry's done that."

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see also
Ferguson calls time on Scotland career
06 Jul 10 |  Football
Ferguson 'would welcome 50th cap'
10 Feb 10 |  Birmingham
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
Rangers pair given comeback hope
16 Apr 09 |  Rangers
Peat demands Scots drinks probe
03 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Scots fans may forgive Gers pair
12 Apr 09 |  Internationals
Scots end Gers pair's cap career
03 Apr 09 |  Internationals

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