Bougherra began his professional football career with French club Gueugnon before having spells with English sides Crewe Alexandra, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton Athletic. Bougherra moved to Rangers in the summer of 2008 for a fee of £2.5 million, he made his debut against Falkirk in August of that year. Bougherra made 113 appearances for Rangers and was a key part of the team that won the Scottish Premier League championship in seasons 2008–09, 2009–10 and 2010–11. In August 2011 Rangers sold Bougherra to Lekhwiya for £1.7 million. Bougherra ended his club career following a short spell at Football League (Greece) side Aris.
An Algerian international since 2004, Bougherra won 64 international caps and scored 4 goals for the Algeria national football team, participating in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, where Algeria finished fourth, and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He served as the team's captain for the 2014 World Cup.
Madjid Bougherra was captain of Les Fennecs, Algeria's National team concurrently with his captaining of Lekhwiya (QSL) from 2011 to 2014, and captained the Fennecs for the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 AFCON.
Bougherra began his career at AS Quetigny in 1999.
Bougherra joined French side Gueugnon in July 2002. Whilst with the Ligue 2 side Bougherra made 49 league appearances and scored one goal. He also made a single appearance in the Coupe de la Ligue.
Bougherra joined English First Division club Crewe Alexandra on loan at the end of January 2006. He managed to get into the Crewe record books as his agent, Charles Collymore recommended the Algerian defender to the South Cheshire club and was given £5,000 by the club, making him the first agent to receive a fee from Crewe.
After a number of impressive performances, including a goal in the 4–1 win over Coventry City, many of the club's supporters urged then manager Dario Gradi to sign Bougherra on a permanent basis. However, in April 2006, he confirmed he would leave Crewe at the end of his loan spell after failing to help the club avoid relegation to League One.
Bougherra's performances at Crewe had attracted interest from a number of clubs in England, including some from the Premier League. He signed for another Championship club, Sheffield Wednesday, in May 2006 on a permanent deal. The fee was undisclosed, but according to then-manager Paul Sturrock it was not as much as the reported £300,000.
Bougherra made a big impact at Hillsborough after making his debut on 5 August 2006 against Preston North End, winning the Player of the Month award in only his second month at the club and captaining the team for the first time against Queens Park Rangers at home in October 2006. He also scored twice for the Owls against Ipswich and West Brom in the first half of the 2006–07 season.
During the January 2007 transfer window, Bougherra was linked with several Premier League clubs. Sheffield Wednesday rejected a £1.3 million offer from Charlton Athletic, whilst Reading, Everton and Birmingham City were also rumoured to be interested. Eventually the Owls accepted an increased offer of £2.5m from Charlton for Bougherra, who completed his move to The Valley on 28 January 2007. Bougherra was linked with a transfer to West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2008 after a transfer fee of £2.5 million was accepted by Charlton. However, Bougherra chose not to join Albion, saying that the absence of West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace during negotiations was a major factor; Peace commented that his presence was not required for the transfer to go through.
Bougherra joined Rangers, signing a four-year deal for £2.5 million on 31 July 2008. He signed for Rangers on the recommendation from Adam Owen who worked closely with him at Sheffield Wednesday FC within the English Championship league.
He made his Rangers debut on 9 August 2008 in a Scottish Premier League match against Falkirk, and scored his first goal on 28 September 2008 in a 3–0 win against Hibernian. After losing Carlos Cuéllar to Aston Villa Bougherra formed a consistent partnership alongside David Weir. Bougherra was sent off in a 2–1 win over Aberdeen in May 2009 after a challenge with Jamie Langfield. The red card was reduced to a yellow upon appeal after the referee changed his decision after reviewing the incident. Bougherra was available for the title decider against Dundee United the following weekend which Rangers won 3–0, winning them the title. Bougherra ended his first season in Scottish football by winning the Scottish Cup in a 1–0 win over Falkirk.
On 12 September 2009 Bougherra was shown two yellows in the same minute against Motherwell at Fir Park, in doing so giving away a penalty. On 16 September 2009, he scored a solo goal in the 77th minute to make it 1–1 against Stuttgart in the group stage of the Champions League, earning Rangers a point. The goal came on Bougherra's European debut for the club. After playing for Algeria against Rwanda in a World Cup qualifier Bougherra returned to Scotland two days late and was subsequently dropped for a league match away to St Johnstone on 17 October. He was late returning from international duty again in November after being caught up in Algeria's World Cup qualification celebrations. On 3 May 2010, Bougherra was awarded the PFA Scotland goal of the season for his effort in the 7–1 win over Dundee United in December 2009.
Bougherra missed much of the second half of the 2009–10 season through injury, but picked up his second SPL winners medal after Rangers clinched back to back league titles in 2010.
On 14 September 2010, Bougherra was named as the man of the match in the opening group game of the Champions League against Manchester United at Old Trafford, with the game ending 0–0. On 26 January 2011, he scored with a volley in a 2–0 win over Hibernian.
In March 2011 Bougherra announced that he intended to leave Rangers at the end of the 2010–11 season after turning down a new contract. Bougherra was fined £2500 by the SFA for manhandling referee Callum Murray during an Old Firm match in 2011. On 3 August in a Champions League qualifier against Malmo, Bougherra was shown a straight red card for elbowing an opponent, which proved to be his last game for the club.
In August 2011 Bougherra moved to Qatar side Lekhwiya for £1.7 million. Bougherra made his league debut on 16 September in a match against Al-Wakrah where he scored the only goal of the match, thus scoring the first goal of the 2011–2012 season. In his first season with the club, he helped Lekhwiya win the 2011–12 Qatar Stars League. Bougherra left Lekhwiya in May 2014.
On 9 September 2016, Bougherra signed with Greek club Aris Thessaloniki. Three months later, after not featuring for Aris and only appearing on the bench once, Bougherra announced his retirement from football.
Despite being born in France and growing up in Dijon, Bougherra opted to play for the country of his grandfather's birth. He first made his debut at Under-23 level on 2 January 2004, in a 2004 Olympics qualifier against Ghana. He made two more appearances at U23 level in qualifiers against Ghana and Zambia.
Bougherra made his full debut in a FIFA World Cup 2006 qualifier on 20 June 2004 against Zimbabwe. On 2 July 2007 he scored his first goal in a 2–2 draw against Cape Verde. His second goal came on 20 June 2009, a header from a free kick in the 2010 World Cup Qualifier against Zambia, which ended in a 2–0 win, putting them top of their group.As of 3 August 2011
Scores and results list Algeria's goal tally first
Scottish Premier League (3): 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11
Scottish Cup (1): 2009
Scottish League Cup (2): 2010, 2011
Qatar Stars League (2): 2011–12, 2013–14
Qatar Crown Prince Cup (1): 2013
PFA Scotland Team of the Year :2009, 2011
Rangers F.C. Player of the Year :2009
PFA Scotland Goal of the Season : 2010
Algerian Ballon d'or: 2009, 2010
DZFoot d'Or : 2009, 2010
El Heddaf Arab Footballer of the Year: 2009
CAF Team of the Year : 2010
Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament: 2010
Algeria Press Service: Best Algerian athletes of the year: 2010