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NILE RANGER......


jamie_gordon
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I have no sympathy for his club, the bloke shouldn't be allowed to play in the northern league

Absolutely. It would be different if he had any pedigree. Incidentally, Shearer was supposedly behind his 5 year 10k a week contract here.

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He's just someone who played briefly for nufc. Like Gavilan. He's only mildly interesting because he's such a dickhead. Still, the face tattoo will be useful for his cellmate to know who he's fucking....

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  • 6 years later...

 

@Diego21 You need a 12 foot ladder. Link to said ladder is at the bottom.

 

Nile Ranger: ‘I’m Haaland if I’d eaten and behaved better. I didn’t. I thought I knew it all’

 

Nile Ranger is, perhaps unsurprisingly, late to meet The Athletic.

After a few frantic calls trying to locate him, the 6ft 2in (188cm) former Newcastle United striker arrives 30 minutes behind schedule.

Where to begin with a footballer who has played in the top five divisions of English football, served two jail terms, battled a gambling addiction and had his contract ripped up by numerous clubs because of disciplinary issues?

His charge sheet does not make for pretty reading.

It includes street robbery, assault, being drunk and disorderly, an FA fine for a homophobic tweet in 2012, a rape trial (he was found not guilty), criminal damage and conspiracy to defraud and commit money laundering.

“There needs to be a movie on my life,” he says, “because it’s a real one, it’s an interesting one.”

We are sat in the sparse living room of the modest north London home Ranger shares with his girlfriend.

The 32-year-old is without a club after leaving Boreham Wood in the summer of 2022, where he played less than 10 minutes in total.

It is a far cry from his days in the Premier League with Newcastle, where he counted Fabricio Coloccini, Hatem Ben Arfa and Alan Smith as team-mates and was earning £40,000 a month ($49,000 at today’s rates).

“I have players coming to me saying, ‘What happened? What’s wrong with you? With your talent, what are you doing?’. I made my bed and now I have to lie in it. I feel frustrated. I know what I can do but it’s deeper than that because I’ve had so many chances.”

There is a feeling of regret at what could have been.

“I didn’t take in the advice. I should be minimum Championship right now. I shouldn’t be having problems but I didn’t listen. If I added nutrition to my game and behaviour, I’m Haaland. But I didn’t want to listen. I thought I knew it all.”

At every club he played for, his mum, Karen, was brought in for a crisis meeting. “Every club I’ve had, even as an adult, my mum has had to come in — because they respect her — to see if it could work as a last throw of the dice. She is my life coach, she’s probably disappointed deep down I didn’t really go higher… but she always says, ‘Listen, we had a blast, no matter what’.”

Ranger is itching to get back into football, desperate for one more crack at the big time.

“I know I’m very good at football, people can play to 38 or 39,” he says. “I can still play. I want to get back then I can climb.”

But the offers are drying up.

“I’ve got to go and show what I can do or I’m going to get to an age where I can’t move. It catches up with you.”

Ranger is living close to where his footballing journey started. His earliest memory was kicking a ball around in his gran’s back garden.

He spent two years in Crystal Palace’s academy before being released because of his bad behaviour in what would become a recurring theme. He started scoring goals for fun at Broadwater Farm in Tottenham and then at semi-professional level with Romford, but his promising career was almost derailed before it had started.

Aged 15, he was sentenced to 11 weeks in a young offenders’ institute for his part in an armed robbery in north London.

“I didn’t want to hurt anyone but I wanted money, phones,” he said. “We would sell phones and the cash they were giving, it was like, ‘Yeah, I wanna do this as a side hustle’. But it’s serious, it’s robbery. You can’t be doing things like that. My mum threatened to kick me out. Police were always coming to the house.”

It was at this point Ranger was thrown a lifeline.

He scored two goals from the bench for his college team, Protec Football Development School, against Southampton in a pre-season friendly. Impressed, his opponents signed him on a two-year scholarship deal. However, the club did not know about his looming trial for armed robbery. When they found out, instead of cutting ties with him, they supported him and even provided him and his mum with a place to stay.

After his release from jail, he returned to the club and was close to securing a professional contract.

However, not for the first time in his career, Ranger hit the self-destruct button. He stole a large quantity of kit from the club and was kicked out.

By this stage, though, clubs were aware of his natural talent and goalscoring prowess. He joined Swindon Town and shone in a pre-season match.

“The next day, (then-executive director) Dennis Wise was phoning me saying, ‘You’re coming to Newcastle’. I was thinking, ‘I can’t go there’, I knew how big it was. My agent was telling me it would be stupid not to do it, even players I was in digs with at Swindon were like, ‘Bro, go, what are you doing?’.”

And so the gangly 17-year-old from London ended up in the north east.

Failed players sacrificed childhoods too. Does football care about their futures?

He initially felt homesick, but after shining in the youth team, he was promoted to the first-team squad by Kevin Keegan for a Premier League match away to Arsenal, the club he grew up supporting.

“I missed a meeting in a hotel, I came down, some of the players were tutting. Keegan said, ‘If you are ever late again, I will pull your gold tooth out and you are going to go sell that. You will never have a contract, I will fine you your wages — this is your last time’. I was like, ‘F***ing hell’. I was shitting it. So I wasn’t late again. I was on the bench against Arsenal, I was looking at Robin van Persie, Michael Owen, I was like, ‘Oh my god’. It was like a dream.”

From there, he kicked on in the reserves before cementing his place in the first team under Chris Hughton. He scored against Chelsea in a 4-3 win at Stamford Bridge in the League Cup — the highlight of his career — and signed a five-and-a-half-year contract in December 2010. He was also starring for England Under-19s — even if he did punch room-mate Andros Townsend in the face during a trip to Ukraine.

Yet the problems were starting to build up off the pitch.

“Mark Viduka. What a man he was. He told me, ‘Football is a long but short career, save your money, focus’. But I didn’t listen. He used to talk to the youngsters, me and Kazenga LuaLua. He didn’t do the flashy thing, big cars. I didn’t take the advice.”

Ranger celebrates scoring against Crystal Palace in 2010 (Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Ranger instead bought a Range Rover with the numberplate “Power Ranger”, funded in part by a £96,000 promotion bonus.

He got a smiley face tattoo on his lip. “That’s my thing, not many people have done it, it’s different. It’s not that mad. The Ranger tattoo on my forehead went crazy. I like tattoos but I’m not going to get any more. I’ve got more than 50, covered.”

He did not see out his contract at Newcastle and left by mutual consent two years after signing it.

“I don’t know why trouble kept coming to me,” he said. “They eventually said, ‘If you’re late again, we don’t have to pay you anything. We suggest you take this mutual consent and go’. There was an issue with the fans, they started booing in a match against Reading and I said, ‘Why are you booing us? You’re supposed to be the 12th man’, and that’s when True Geordie blasted me and it went viral.”

It was at Newcastle that Ranger developed a gambling addiction that spiralled out of control.

“I was doing some mad things. It was bad what I was doing. The chairman (Mike Ashley) tried to help and to stop me from going to casinos. I was going to casinos every single day. I tried it, I started getting hooked. Derek Llambias (then-managing director) phoned me one day and said, ‘We need to have a meeting’. He said, ‘We’re taking it out of your hands — we’ve been hearing you’re going to casinos every day. You’re banned as we own them… you’ll thank me in the long run’. I was borrowing money off people, including Coloccini. One time, my mum and my sister said, ‘You’ve done £32,000 in the space of two months’. That’s when it hit me hard. My mum said I had to stop.

“I’m an addictive personality. I got addicted to it, that feeling of winning would be outrageous, that adrenaline was crazy. I thank God for my mum because there were times I was getting big money each month and she was like, ‘I’m taking this’. She dealt with everything.”

From the highs of the Premier League, he returned to Swindon in League One.

On the pitch, he was scoring goals, yet away from it, his life was unravelling.

In July 2013, he was charged with rape. He was eventually cleared in March 2014 following a week-long trial.

“No clubs wanted me because of the case,” he said. “Big teams like QPR and Hull were interested… but I had to drop levels, it messed me up.”

But still, the trouble followed him.

He was fined for kicking a door down at a block of flats in Swindon after a night out for his birthday in April. In the incident, caught on CCTV, he appeared to strike a female friend in the face. Ranger said he “blacked out” and has no memory of what happened.

“I had some bad stages when I was on the drink sometimes,” he said. “That’s the only time I blacked out, but I don’t remember kicking the door down, there’s no excuse for it. That was scary. I knew I needed to chill with the drink.”

After leaving Swindon by “mutual agreement”, his career nosedived during a disastrous spell at Blackpool.

“The way Karl Oyston (the Blackpool chairman) dealt with me was crazy,” says Ranger. “He said they’d give me £150 a week, £2k-£3k pro-rota if I played the full game (he wasn’t playing much). I went missing, I went, ‘F*** this’. It was a year contract, they had an option to renew and they did. The new manager, Neil McDonald, said, ‘You’re never going to play for me’. So the manager was saying he wanted me to go but the chairman wanted to keep me, so it went to a tribunal and, eventually, I was allowed to leave (he won the case against Oyston). It was messing me up.”

It was during this sorry time at Blackpool that Ranger became involved in an online banking fraud. He admitted switching more than £2,000 from a woman’s account to another. Two years later, in 2017, he was jailed for that crime for eight months.

Ranger, by now playing for Southend United in League One, served 10 weeks in Pentonville prison before being released for good behaviour.

“It was terrible, it was 23 hours locked in your cell, it’s shocking,” Ranger says. “I knew a lot of people in there. Jail’s not for me, I’m not built for jail. You have too much time to reflect. I shouldn’t have gone to jail for that. The judge didn’t listen to me.

“Some things shouldn’t have happened. When I was young, the robberies, I didn’t want anyone to get hurt or give anyone trauma, I was just following the crowd. With that fraud, I feel like it’s not physical but I lined something up where someone can make money from doing that and it’s not right because that can give someone trauma as well.

“Jail the first time was worse than the second time. It’s like a youth club, everyone has their phones. I did make a few phone calls. It was crazy.”

Ranger went to jail while he was a Southend player 

Despite his prison sentence, Southend remained loyal to Ranger and kept him for the next season.

“But I messed around again,” he said. “I get complacent. I started waking up late for training, I was still starting matches but it wasn’t a good look as it seemed like I was getting special treatment. Experienced players like Anton Ferdinand, Simon Cox, they used to always get on to me. I wasn’t trying to do it on purpose, but I was staying up late and then sleeping in.”

He had his contract terminated in January 2018.

Since then, he has played one match for Spalding United in the Northern Premier League Division One South East in the eighth tier, 12 minutes for Southend (again) in League Two, and that last spell at Boreham Wood in the National League.

He hit the headlines again in February this year when he angered fans by trying to sell tickets for the Carabao Cup final between Newcastle United and Manchester United at inflated prices.

Ranger has been without a club since leaving Boreham Wood in 2022.

Responding to that, he said: “I can understand why they (the Newcastle fans) were angry because they haven’t got into a cup for a very long time. But football’s not everything, there are ways of making money. Reselling things is not illegal. I put it up on my Instagram story to try to make money but I can understand why they’re a bit pissed. But it’s not me, it’s the person above me. I understand it but it’s still stupid from them… they just wanted to make a scene.”

So what is next for the man who once said he was being treated as the “Osama Bin Laden of football”?

He is adamant there is more to come and believes he can act as a mentor to younger players.

“People can learn from me. I played in every league — I’ve been at the highest level, I’ve been there, I can help the kids. It’s not the end of me. I love football, there’s still opportunity but there’s more to life than just football.”

Ranger said becoming a father two years ago had matured him and meant he had become less selfish.

So what advice would a 32-year-old Ranger give to a 16-year-old Ranger?

“I would say, ‘Fix up because you can go places, you need to try to actually live like a professional, cut out all the people that draw you out, just focus on your career, eat the right things, live right’. I was just not living like a professional footballer, I ate lots of sweets and things like that. I’ve never drank or gone out before games but I’ve stayed up late all night playing FIFA with my friends. But I thought I could do it. That mentality is f***ed up because you need sleep.”

As he draws towards the end of his career, how would he like to be remembered?

“A good player, but a rebel,” he replies. “I’ve had a blast, it’s been eventful, but where I have regrets is it was never about my talent… it was my behaviour.”

 

https://12ft.io/     :drinks:

 

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Never would have been better than Shola before he fucked his legs. Better than older Shola, but no more than a lower level prem striker at best.

 

Saying he'd have been as good as Haaland if he'd scranned a salad every once in a while is hilarious though.

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He’s definitely got issues. But apart from the obvious ‘who hasn’t?’ he wasted so many chances to rebuild his career. I don’t have a lot of sympathy either really. I think all the chances he had suggests he had something about him. Even if the Haaland comparison is laughable. I know he was a nuisance to put it mildly when he was living in Forest Hall but he also spent half his life in the bookies at the shops there. I think we’re the only club where he’ll have made serious money and I’d like to think he’d have been much better supported now. I know a lot of it is down to him and I’m not looking to make excuses. But it’s quite sad to see what he’s thrown away. You would think it goes downhill from here too. 

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25 minutes ago, Dazzler said:

Never would have been better than Shola before he fucked his legs. Better than older Shola, but no more than a lower level prem striker at best.

 

Saying he'd have been as good as Haaland if he'd scranned a salad every once in a while is hilarious though.

Surprised Athletic posted that bit.  More of a Daily Star sort of headline.

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Even I'm struggling to have sympathy with him. At some point in that continuous cycle of decline and poor judgment he should have stood up and done something to stop it. It's all well and good saying he's see everything correctly now, and I hope he is, but he took a long fucking time to do it. His journey in life may be much better from here, but he destroyed himself despite the efforts of a great many people around him. At least he seems to acknowledge that on some level.

 

Hope he's a better father than he was a professional.

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Also imagine being a 30 year old bloke in a bit of bother at work and your gaffer rings your mam on you.

 

That is as equally hilarious to me as thinking a lack of a bit of roughage in his diet is all that stopped him from being an elite athlete.

 

There's being a knacker and then there's getting grassed on to mammy as an adult.

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I wonder if, had he'd stayed, Keegan could have sorted him out a bit more? Maybe that's too much of a stretch even for that magician. 

 

Honestly, if it wasn't for the move to Newcastle, I don't think anybody would have heard of him. Just another waste of talent. Similar stories happen all the time, but without a 'big club' elevating them into the limelight they go untold. 

 

Ranger could have carved out a good professional career, maybe as high up the pyramid as the Championship for a while, but there's clearly something askew within him. Hanging about with the wrong crowd is one thing, but given he's played all over the shop he's had plenty of opportunities to put his past behind him. If that quote from his mam is true, she'd not done enough to put the fear of God in him, imo. ‘Listen, we had a blast, no matter what’ sounds to me like someone who wants to be mates, not a parent. 

 

I've no sympathy for him, not when there's kids with as much to offer professional football who've not had one chance, let alone the 6 or 7 he's had. Fuck him.

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