Barry Ferguson: Boozegate was one of the biggest mistakes of my career
Speaking to Simon Ferry on the Si Ferry Meets... show, presented by Open Goal, Ferguson revealed that the gesture he made from the Scotland bench during a match ‘was just a random thing’.
Ferguson and Allan McGregor were widely criticised after a late-night drinking session following their return to Scotland after a match against the Netherlands.
The pair, who had both played the 90 minutes in Amsterdam, were omitted from the starting line-up to face Iceland at Hampden on 1 April 2009.
But the duo were seen appearing to make the ‘V-sign’ on the subs bench, sparking controversy.
The stunt effectively ended Ferguson’s international career as well as his time at Rangers but he insisted to Ferry that he ‘loved playing with Scotland’, adding: “I’m sick of people saying I didn’t care about Scotland.
“George Burley never fancied us. I got the feeling. I’m fine with that, it’s all about opinions.”
But Ferguson admitted the incident was one of the biggest mistakes of his career, and attempted to set the record straight.
“We got back from Holland at 4am. We were allowed to have a couple of drinks. We maybe had one or two drinks too many, it led into breakfast time.
“But that is at 4 in the morning. Breakfast was at 8 or 9 o’clock.
“Me being captain, I shouldn’t have done it, but it’s not the all night drinking spree that people made it out to be.”
Ferguson insists that Burley wanted to send him and McGregor home but the rest of the squad said it ‘wasn’t right’.
Ferguson continued: “Me and Allan McGregor were the ones that got pulled up – obviously everyone knows other people were there.
“Gordon Smith and another guy from the SFA were coming down to have a word with us and send us home. The boys said it wasn’t right and if [we were sent] home everybody else goes home.
“I said, ‘forget about this, we have a game coming up here, and that is more important than us. Let’s concentrate on the game.
“In hindsight I shouldn’t have been on the bench because of what happened. But it happened, a big mistake and it cost me my international future.
The Ibrox legend revealed he had a route back into the squad following Burley’s departure, with successor Craig Levein wanting to include Ferguson in his squads.
But it ‘would have been a circus’, Ferguson said, as he added: “It’s not about me, it’s about Scotland doing well - and I said that to Craig at the time.
“I’d have loved to come back but it’s about Scotland and the boys that are in the squad, not one individual.”
And that gesture on the bench during the Iceland game?
“I can’t even remember what brought me to do that. It was not a set-up. It was just random - biggest regret the way it ended.
“It cost me my Rangers career, not just my Scotland career.”