Forget the third year, he shone in the first two ... farewell to Rotherham United's Shane Ferguson

Shane Ferguson in action for Rotherham United against Sheffield Wednesday in his final season at the club. Picture: Jim BrailsfordShane Ferguson in action for Rotherham United against Sheffield Wednesday in his final season at the club. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Shane Ferguson in action for Rotherham United against Sheffield Wednesday in his final season at the club. Picture: Jim Brailsford
​NEVER has a footballer looked less like a footballer than Shane Ferguson.

He was small, he had no muscle definition, his skin was so white you'd have thought he'd never set foot outside let alone on to a pitch.

Then you put a ball at his feet and everything made perfect sense.

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The winger spent three years with Rotherham United before his release last week. Two of them were great, the last one was a write-off because of injury.

Shane Ferguson in action for Rotherham United against Sheffield Wednesday in his final season at the club. Picture: Jim BrailsfordShane Ferguson in action for Rotherham United against Sheffield Wednesday in his final season at the club. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Shane Ferguson in action for Rotherham United against Sheffield Wednesday in his final season at the club. Picture: Jim Brailsford

Few kept possession the way he could, even fewer crossed with his precision. It mattered not if he was marked, it mattered even less if there was no space, Ferguson found a way to deliver.

A League One promotion and Papa Johns Trophy silverware at Wembley in his first season followed by Championship survival in his second make for a pretty decent AESSEAL New York Stadium CV.

The Derry-born attacker arrived on July 20 in 2021. On the same day his signing was announced, he was in the squad for a friendly at Rochdale.

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Everything had been a rush, Rotherham hadn't even found time to sort out his kit and the club-issue tracksuit he was wearing as he disembarked from the team bus was at least a size too big.

He came on as a late substitute when the Millers were losing 2-0 to a Dale side containing a certain Ollie Rathbone. By the time the game ended, it was 2-2. He had set up both goals.

Ferguson was signed by Paul Warne and bought straight into the experience. He'd previously been with Millwall and his family had remained in Newcastle, where he'd started out in the Premier League. Now he moved them down the A1 and they settled into a new home in Waverley.

He skipped rather than ran, he scampered rather than raced, he scored great goals that required perfect technique: the winner at Ipswich Town in the promotion push, then against Blackburn Rovers (direct from a corner), Watford and Sunderland as Rotherham stayed up.

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He added to his Northern Ireland caps until he had 57, he played through pain in the survival run-in when hernia problems were first surfacing.

Being interviewed was never Ferguson's favourite pastime and he kept his answers as short as his legs, but he'd open up once the voice recorders had been switched off and was a lovely, engaging character.

Teammates enjoyed his lively presence in the dressing room where he was quick-witted, with a sense of humour that twinkled like his feet.

Time is ticking by. The player is 32 and will be 33 by the time next season starts, but if he stays free of injury he'll do a cracking job somewhere.

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It was such a shame he could make no real contribution in that last, horrible relegation season when he required three rounds of surgery and was at his wits' end at the continual setbacks in his recovery.

There were no appearances until February and then just nine, only two of which were starts.

Remember him for the 74 matches that came before that. Because, unlike that first-day tracksuit, Ferguson and the Millers were a lovely fit.