Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Glenn Ferguson’s hoping to sign off with final trophy triumph

Glenn Ferguson

Glenn Ferguson awoke this morning dreaming of getting his hands on a trophy for the last time.

If Lisburn Distillery can conquer Portadown in the final of the Co-operative Insurance Cup — winning their first senior prize since tasting Gold Cup glory in 1993 — ‘Spike’ will lift silverware for the 30th time.

It would be a fairytale finish to a dream career.

Footballers like former Northern Ireland international Ferguson never lose their insatiable appetite for success and some people might feel that if the 41-year-old lifts another trophy today he may start thinking of shelving retirement plans.

Whites boss Tommy Wright would love to see the goalscoring legend torturing defences for another season and everyone who has seen him compete this season knows he still has the magic touch.

But Ferguson is no different than any other player in the sense that time catches up with everyone.

While the competitive fires still rage and the spirit is strong, the body is not as robust as it once was.

It’s not that he can’t play on — he is haunted by the fear of sustaining a serious injury, a fear that came to the surface again last weekend when he was on the receiving end of a horror challenge against today’s opponents Portadown.

“I’ve made up my mind, definitely,” said Ferguson who has won the League Cup four times before today’s decider.

“I do feel the aches and pains sometimes but I’m at a stage when I don’t want to pick up serious injuries that will take time to heal.

“I want to get through the next six games and walk away with my limbs still intact. At 42 it would be hard to come back from serious injury. I’m happy with what I have achieved up to now and no-one can take those memories from me. I don’t need to go chasing anything else and taking risks with my health.”

Ferguson is expected to begin his coaching career at Lisburn Distillery next season and Wright is thrilled that his former international team-mate is ending his playing career with the Whites.

“Glenn wasn’t hard to persuade to continue playing because he saw potential in our squad and the plans that we had,” he said.

“He has brought us experience, he’s been a leader on the pitch. Pat McShane is our captain but Glenn also leads by example on and off the pitch by how he conducts himself.

“On the pitch he is disciplined in what he does and he looks after himself and that is the biggest plus for us, having someone that the younger players look up to.

“I’ve embarrassed some players by having a pop at them because they come on as subs and Glenn is sprinting past them. I say ‘Look he’s 41 and I don’t want him to do that — you should be doing that!’

“I don’t think it can be under-estimated what he has done this season. I had to play him more than I would have liked but he was happy to take up the challenge and he refused offers of nights off. It’s a credit to him what he has achieved this season.”

Wright finished off with a joke. “I’ve told him he will be rested for the final after playing on Saturday.”

Not even Wright could keep a straight face when he said it.

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