FERGIE TIME NOW
Shane Ferguson is a Millwall player permanently... and targetting Euro ‘16
FLYING winger Shane Ferguson is eyeing a place in Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 squad after signing a permanent deal with Millwall – but his first aim is to help the Lions roar back from two goals down to reach Wembley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final.
The League One side lost 2-0 at home to Oxford United a fortnight ago in the first leg of their area final, but Ferguson is confident he and his team-mates will put up a fight at the Kassam as the match is of high importance to boss Neil Harris.
“We’ll be doing everything we can to get through on the night,” the 24-year-old told The FLP.
“The last game didn’t quite go to plan for us, but we just need to give it our all and see what happens. We know we’ll have the fans supporting us all the way.
“The manager has always instilled into us that each game is as important as the last, so we’ll make sure we are at our best to get us to that final.”
Ferguson was brought to the Den on loan from Newcastle United in August but has now signed an 18-month contract which will see him remain in south-east London until the summer of 2017.
“I’m very happy everything is done now, so I can just focus on the football,” he said.
“I look forward to the future now at Millwall and towards the rest of the season.
“All I want to do is play football and I’ve been doing that this season and enjoying it.
“From day one, Millwall wanted me here permanently, and I think it was the best choice for me with the Euros approaching.”
Brought up in Derry, Ferguson left home as a teenager to pursue his ultimate dream of becoming a professional footballer, with the Magpies handing him his golden chance to shine.
“I moved over from Northern Ireland when I was 15 alongside two other lads, including Paddy McLaughlin, who is now at Gateshead, and we all moved in together with a family in Newcastle,” he said. “The academy director at the time was Richard Money and he helped me a lot, but there were also people like Peter Beardsley, Kenny Wharton and Peter Kirkley, who was the man who scouted me from Northern Ireland.
“The quality of coaching and the facilities we had there were outstanding.You were only going to improve as a player from that point.”
Ferguson followed up a couple of League Cup appearances with a Premier League debut against West Ham at St James’ s Park in January 2011 but would go on to make a total of only 32 appearances in the black and white.
“It was a dream come true making my Premier League debut,” he said.
“I never thought it would happen for me but luckily I got my chance. It’s something I’ll never forget and I have some great memories from there.
“I don’t regret a thing about making the big move from home. Newcastle is a massive club, so they’re always going to make a lot of signings, but if you’re not going to get the game time you have to look elsewhere.”
After an injury hampered a loan spell north of the border at Rangers during the 2014-15 campaign, Ferguson joined Millwall just before this season’s opener against Shrewsbury and became a regular starter in Harris’ team.
With game time needed to improve his chances of being selected for Northern Ireland in the European Championships, winger Ferguson, capped 22 times, is expecting a bumpy ride when they get to France. He adds: “I don’t want to get complacent and say I’ll be in the squad, so I’ll keep impressing as much as I can.
“Ukraine, Poland and especially Germany will be incredibly tough, but I think that’s what we wanted.
“We’ve come a long way and beaten a lot of good teams to get here.We are just looking forward to the experience.”
EURO HOPE: Shane Ferguson playing in qualifiers against the Faroes and Finland TOON TRIO: Ferguson was one of three Northern Irish boys to join Newcastle when he was 15 LIFE WITH LIONS: Shane Ferguson is delighted his stay at Millwall has been extended