Throughout the international break, I was lucky enough to have a chat with Hamilton’s most recent successful youth academy product, Lewis Ferguson.
The midfielder left Hamilton at the end of last season to join Aberdeen after agreeing a pre-contract deal at the end of last season.
Lewis a fantastic young player, is the son of former Scotland and Rangers midfielder Derek Ferguson and nephew of Barry Ferguson.
The 19-year-old was rejected by Rangers at the end of 2013 before moving to Hamilton as a few of his mates played there. Lewis has made 7 caps for the Scotland u19s and now plays with the u21’s squad as well as being regular starter at Aberdeen and is highly thought of by Dons boss, Derek McInnes.
Speaking about what difference he found when he switched from Rangers to Hamilton Ferguson said: “My move from Rangers to Hamilton, it was very difficult to be told by a club I had been at for years that I just wasn’t good enough for them but I was of course from Hamilton and knew a few of the boys in the academy at my age group.
“My dad knew what Hamilton were like as a club and in terms of producing young players, so it just seemed like a perfect place to be. I settled in very well at the club and George Cairns was a huge part of that. He always makes sure he looks after the players and that I was able to start enjoying my football again even though I had a period where I wasn’t playing regularly for the U17s.
“George Cairns dropped me down into the U15s for game time and that’s exactly what I needed to kick on and credit to George for doing that. It helped me a lot in my development and from there I just kicked on and tried to develop and push on for a full-time contract, which thankfully I managed to get. In terms of difference between the training and coaching, there wasn’t any.
“The standards of both coaching and players were very high and its a good environment to be in. George was quite old school with the way he worked with us. There was no messing about and he would tell us exactly how it is and I think that helped me a lot in terms of developing.” He admitted.
Lewis spoke about his time with the Accies and what made him move to Aberdeen so quick after making his Hamilton debut and becoming a regular starter from then on: “I loved every minute of playing for Accies and I have a lot to thank the club for, giving me my chance at first team football.” The Scottish Under-21 International said.
“I always speak very highly of the club because I enjoyed every single bit of it and that’s mostly down to them for giving me the platform to go and play at a high level.
The Aberdeen move came about very quickly, but after speaking to my new gaffer, Derek McInnes, the way he spoke to me and sold the club was very impressive. He told me that I would be a part of his plans in his first team, so I just felt after speaking to him that it was the right thing to do and he was a manager I really looked forward to working with. He then told me that he had been watching me over a long period of time and was keeping track of me.” He Continued
“This came as a bit of a surprise to me because you never think other managers and scouts are watching you, so that showed how interested he was in getting me to Pittodrie. Derek was a huge part of me going to Aberdeen. The club itself as you know is a very big club, has a great history and have been the 2nd best team in Scotland over the past 4 years, so playing at the top end of the league, competing for trophies and getting the chance to play in Europe was absolutely a massive chance for at such a young age. I felt that moving to Aberdeen could boost my career and help me even more in my development to becoming a better player.” He explained.
When Ferguson was asked about whether he sees himself playing at the highest level in years to come he said: “I hope so as I aspire to play at that level. Those guys have set the marker down and shown that there is a pathway at Accies Academy that can take you right to the top, if you have the correct attitude and willingness to push yourself to the best you can be.
“This is what I am aiming to do of course, and I am sure there are many other boys out there who are trying to make that same step. Accies have a really good Philosophy of bringing youth players through and it works time and time again. I was lucky to come through a good environment and move on like every other player has done.” He expressed.
“(James) McCarthy and (James) McArthur are top professionals and are players I looked up to as they came through the same set up as me. It’s all down to hard work and dedication to the game that will take you right to the top and that’s what they guys have done throughout their careers, as they have gone on to play at a very high level.
This is something I would love to do in my career, but it is all down to how I apply myself and ill do everything it takes to take that step up to a top-level side. There is still a long way to go as I am still young, learning the game and developing. It is something I dream of doing one day.”
I asked Lewis about life at Aberdeen compared to when he was at Hamilton and the former Rangers youngster said: “Life’s a lot different and things have changed since moving from Hamilton. I’m now in a flat by myself and have to cook and clean and look after myself.
“Before, I was used to my mum doing this, so it has been a big change but a its a change I am enjoying. In terms of the club, it’s great. It’s an easy changing room to come into as everyone gets along well with each other.
“It’s a great atmosphere and a great changing room to be in as there is a real togetherness. I’m enjoying every moment up in Aberdeen. Even though I am away from home, I still feel at home here.
I’m most-closest to the boys that are the same ages with me, which isn’t hard to guess.
“The likes of Frank Ross, Bruce Anderson. Sam Cosgrove lives just around the corner from me, so we always travel into training together, so I am also very close with him.
“I sit next to Mikey Devlin in the changing room as I know him well because he was my club captain at Hamilton and its someone, I’ve always felt comfortable speaking to, so that made it easier knowing he was already there when I made my move to Pittodrie.
“I’m still in touch with my pals at Hamilton, with the likes of Ronan Hughes and Ryan Tierney because we are really got friends and very close to each other.” Ferguson explained.
Ferguson, who joined the Dons in the summer of 2018 from Hamilton, made his competitive debut for Derek McInnes’ side against Premier League side Burnley in the Europa League at Pittodrie.
The Scottish international scored his first senior goal at the home of the English side in the second leg with a stunning overhead kick, which is one of three vital goals, for the Dons including the winner in the Betfred Cup Semi-Final against Rangers in October he also scored at Rugby Park, the home of Kilmarnock, and when asked which one was his favourite he said: “To be honest, I’ve still not decided which one is my overall favourite. They are all very special moments in big games.
“The overhead kick is my favourite in terms of type of goal. It was also my first senior goal and it came in the Europa League against a Premier League side, which made it a little bit sweeter.
“In terms of occasion it would have to be winner against Rangers at Hampden, simply being down to the timing of the goal and it being a winner of a huge semi-final.
“That was my first semi-final and my first game at Hampden. It came against the side who told me I wasn’t good enough to play for them, so it was a massive occasion and me as well as the club. To grab the winner late on, was one of the best feelings I have ever had. Although my pals weren’t best pleased with it, they understood the importance and how big a moment it was for myself.
“The Kilmarnock winner was also a great feeling as it was a very late goal that completed a huge comeback to get us 3 vital points at Rugby Park, which is a very tough place to go in the Scottish Premier League. so overall, I don’t have a favourite but every single one of them meant a lot to me and I hope there are many more to come in the future.” He revealed.
I would like to say a very big thank you to Lewis for his time to answer these questions and wish him well for the remainder of the season and of course, the future.