Ferguson makes up for that lost time

Barry Ferguson clipped Egil Ostenstad's wings last Wednesday in Oslo as he dented the Norway striker's hopes of appearing in a second World Cup finals. Now the Rangers and Scotland captain intends to set about amending his Champions' League record.

Ostenstad is in the Ibrox hall of shame for his wretched nine-month stay in 2003-04. The former Blackburn Rovers striker barely kicked a ball, yet he still "graced" Europe's top event while Ferguson watched at home on television, smothered in frustration. The midfielder moved to Ewood Park for £6.5 million just days after guiding Rangers into the group stage that season. It was seeing the team he left behind take on Manchester United and Stuttgart that convinced Ferguson he had made the wrong decision.

Rangers corrected that error last January by paying £7.5m to bring Ferguson back, and the 26-year-old rewarded his first love by guiding Alex McLeish's side to the Scottish Premier League title and a return ticket to the Champions' League. When the draw was made a fortnight ago, giving Ferguson a glamorous itinerary that includes Internazionale and Tuesday's visitors to Ibrox, Porto, he could barely conceal his delight.

"I came up for all Rangers' home games in Europe when I was at Blackburn," Ferguson said. "However, it was watching them on television playing at Old Trafford and Stuttgart that brought it home to me. I kept thinking, 'I should be out there with them'."

The fact that Ostenstad played twice in that campaign and sat on the bench for the Battle of Britain double-header as Rangers finished bottom of their group will have done little to ease Ferguson's irritation. "I don't know the guy, because he moved from Ewood as part of my deal, but friends told me he had a hard time," said Ferguson before Scotland inflicted a 2-1 defeat on Norway in their own backyard last Wednesday that gives Walter Smith's team an outside chance of snatching a play-off place for Germany 2006 from their Norse rivals.

"The one thing that is missing from my CV is appearing in a major tournament with Scotland," reflected Ferguson. "I would like to do it before I finish. I think I've got two more qualifying campaigns left in me. That would take me up to my 32nd birthday. However, we have not given up on this one. We have put pressure on Norway with that win. We are back in contention, and we did it by playing flair football in Oslo."

Ferguson enjoyed two Champions' League campaigns with Rangers in his first incarnation, but he will savour the return at Ibrox on Tuesday. Porto are no longer the force they were when they won the trophy in 2004. Many of Jose Mourinho's players have followed him to richer pastures, and the team are now on their fourth coach in a year in Co Adriaanse.

The Dutchman is something of a nemesis for McLeish, after his former club, AZ 67, defeated Rangers in the Uefa Cup last season.

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