Barry Ferguson was a controversial figure in football in his day, with his talent only matched by his ability to get into the headlines.
He spent 18 years playing football, for clubs like Blackburn, Rangers and Blackpool. He also played for Scotland, where he was banned for playing for his country due to an obscene gesture during a match.
However, it was his time in Birmingham that would bring the Scottish International the most infamy, during the final of the 2011 League Cup tournament.
Barry Ferguson Slapped Laurent Koscielny
Barry Ferguson infamously slapped Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny, after the French International’s blunder cost his side the cup final victory.
The match between Arsenal and Birmingham had not been the best final. It was a decent game, with Birmingham leading through Nikolo Zigic in the first half.
Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie equalised soon after, which led to a cagey half for both sides.
Barry Ferguson started the game in midfield, and played the entire game from start to finish. This was despite breaking a rib in the first half, something that would keep most players out for weeks.
In the last minute, the ball was fired into the box by Birmingham keeper Ben Foster (now at Wrexham).
It was then headed down by Nikola Zigic, the 6 foot 7 striker who is one of the tallest players in Premier League history.
It was a poor header, and bounced into the box, away from Obafemi Martins (the Nigerian who partnered Zigic up front).
The ball fell to Laurent Koscielny, who swung his leg to clear the ball. He pulled away at the last minute, unbeknownst to Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczęsny.
Expecting the ball to be cleared by the defending, it instead bounced off his chest and into the path of Obafemi Martins, who passed the ball into the net and ran off to celebrate.
This goal was in the 89th minute, and signalled the end of the game for Arsenal. However, it was Barry Ferguson’s actions which drew the ire of the Arsenal fans and players.
As Martins ran off to celebrate, off-camera Barry Ferguson ran into the box. As he ran away to join his teammates, he allegedly slapped Laurent Koscielny around the head, mocking him for his mistake that gave Birmingham the trophy.
It was Arsenal who would have the last laugh, however. Birmingham suffered relegation that season, dooming them to the championship (a division they have yet to recover from).
Meanwhile, Arsenal went on to win multiple FA Cups in the years following, although we’re not sure if Barry Ferguson and Laurent Koscielny ever made up.
Jack Wilshere On “The Slap”
The former England midfielder let his feelings be known after the fact, taking to Twitter to vent his frustrations towards the Birmingham Midfielder.
Having spent the majority of his life with Arsenal, Wilshere was quick to defend his club, and the teammate who was attacked by Barry Ferguson.
“Well done to the Birmingham City player who slapped Koscielny on the head when they scored” Jack Wilshere Tweeted, before adding “Very big of you!”.
Wilshere spent a decade in the Arsenal first team, but constant injuries decimated his career. He spent time at Bournemouth, West Ham and Danish-side AGF, before retiring in 2022 to become a coach with Arsenal.
In his career, Jack Wilshere won two FA-Cups with Arsenal, but due to Obefemi Martins goal and Barry Ferguson’s slap on Laurent Koscielny, he never lifted the League Cup.
Barry Fergusom Apologised To Koscielny Years Later.
Barry Ferguson finally said sorry to Laurent Koscielny for the slap, in a 2015 newspaper column.
Writing in The Daily Record, Fergus apologised to the Frenchman, calling the slap “a moment of sheer stupidity”
“At this point let me offer up a personal apology to Koscielny” Barry Ferguson wrote, “Not only did our victory that day haunt Wenger for years but there was also a moment, in the heat of celebration, that I have regretted ever since.”
“Koscielny was still on his knees on the edge of his six-yard box after colliding with his own keeper to give Obafemi Martins a tap-in, in the dying seconds of the final.”
The guy was devastated.” The Scottish Internetional continued, “The last thing he needed right then was a wee Scottish smart arse giving him a clip round the back of the head. But that’s exactly what I gave him as I ran past to celebrate with my team-mates”
“It was just a moment of sheer stupidity – I just couldn’t take in what was actually happening. We had scored the winner with basically the last kick of the ball. I remember looking up at the scoreboard and thinking: “What the f*** is going on here?”