Bobby Ferguson ‘helped turn me into the player I went on to become’ – Terry Butcher pays tribute to former Ipswich boss
Ipswich Town legend Terry Butcher has said Bobby Ferguson was one of the best coaches he ever played for, and the man who turned him into “the player I went on to become.”
Ferguson, the Blues first-team coach under Bobby Robson in the club’s glory years and manager at Portman Road between 1982 and 1987, died yesterday at the age of 80.
“Bobby was a great man, a really great man,” Butcher said.
“He was one of the best coaches I ever worked with and there is no doubt he helped turn me into the player I went on to become.
“He took me from a bungling yokel and helped turn me into an international player. I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“It’s a very sad day, very sad day. His drive and enthusiasm, he was a winner, yet he always wanted us to play football.
“Pass, pass, pass, move and pass. He instilled more aggression into me, even though I was quite aggressive anyway. But he always wanted us to play the right way.
“I have no doubt if it wasn’t for Bobby Ferguson I would not have got to the levels in football that I did.”
Born at Dudley, in County Durham, Ferguson started his football career as a tough-tackling full-back with Newcastle United in 1955.
His playing career took him to Derby County, Cardiff City, Barry Town and Newport County before being appointed to the back-room staff at Portman Road by Bobby Robson in 1970.
The pair, alongside Charlie Woods and Cyril Lea were to help guide Ipswich to more than a decade of glory - at home and abroad. Ferguson the master tactician.
Butcher said: “Fergie was a great tactician. His idea to play Eric Gates behind the front two was revolutionary in the 80s, no-one had seen anything like it.
“I really thought a great deal of him. I loved his training sessions. We always came in knackered but his sessions were always so different and so good.
“When I took over as manager of Sunderland in 1993, Bobby came along as my assistant.
“He was a real football man.”
Flags have been flown at half mast at Portman Road since the news broke.
In a statement, the club said: “It’s very sad news. Bobby was a fantastic servant to Ipswich Town as a coach and manager and remained a regular at Portman Road on matchdays in recent years. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to Bobby’s family and friends at this very sad time.
“The club will be paying tribute to Bobby at the Millwall game on Monday with a minute’s applause before the game and the players will be wearing black armbands.”