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May 16 , 2011

In Search of Duncan Ferguson

The Life and Crimes of a Footballing Enigma


He was one of the hardest, most controversial footballers of his generation: the £20million man who became the first professional player to go to jail for an offence committed on the field of play. He was the fans’ hero who disappeared.
Duncan Ferguson was an old-fashioned Scottish centre-forward who went from a boarding house in Dundee to the marble staircase of Rangers in a record-breaking transfer.

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His £4m move from Dundee United to Ibrox made him British football’s most expensive native player. But he would also become one of the most notorious footballers in the land. Sent to prison after head-butting an opponent during a Scottish Premier Division match between Rangers and Raith Rovers, Ferguson made history all over again.

He served half of a three-month sentence in Glasgow’s infamous Barlinnie Prison. A twelve-match ban from the Scottish Football Association was later overturned following a long appeal process. Bruised by the experience, he turned his back on Scotland’s national team and the media.

Ferguson reaped the riches of the Sky era. He was a folk hero at Everton, where he spent ten years either side of an injury-hit spell at Newcastle United. Although the game made him a millionaire, he rejected its new culture of celebrity and remained a fiery figure, racking up a Premiership record of eight red cards. And then, after scoring in the final minute of the last game of his career, he turned his back on football completely – or so it seemed.

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