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Nile Ranger: Football’s Bad Boy

From promising England wonderkid to lower league reject, what on earth happened to Nile Ranger? Well, while some players struggle with the odd social media mishap or arrive late to a training session, Ranger’s past is absolutely littered with off-field disciplinary issues that have plagued a once promising career, perhaps to the point of no return.

Ranger’s remarkable rap sheet makes for some eyebrow-raising reading. Over the last decade or so, he’s been suspected or accused of robbery, assault, rape, money laundering, and more. It’s important to note that many charges against him were dropped, so he certainly wasn’t guilty of every accusation, but he has spent time in prison and his repeated disciplinary issues have repeatedly derailed his career.

Born in Wood Green, London, Ranger joined up with the academy at Crystal Palace and showed a lot of potential, catching the eye of Southampton scouts. Unfortunately, the first of many run-ins with the law would curtail Ranger’s career right as it was beginning. He was involved in an armed robbery and had to spend some time in a Young Offender’s Institute, leading to the Saints letting him go quite quickly.

The forward was handed a lifeline by Newcastle United. He got his head down and focused on football, excelling in the club’s youth and reserve squads before making his first start for the senior side at the start of the 2009-10 season and winning the Man of the Match award for a very impressive performance. He was called up to the England U19 squad too and did very well, scoring six goals in 11 appearances.

Excited Newcastle fans believed that Ranger was a real star-in-the-making and he scored a couple of goals as the club won the Championship. During this time, Ranger had no notable off-field issues and he put in some good shifts in his second full season for the club. He couldn’t really find the back of the net, but was still young and had time to grow. Unfortunately, things suddenly started to take a downward turn.

It was in 2011 that Ranger’s reckless past began to re-emerge. He was arrested on suspicion of assault, as well as being charged with drunk and disorderly conduct. His immature attitude on social media had also started to become an issue. Understandably, Newcastle’s higher-ups started to worry that Ranger was causing more trouble than he was worth and he left in 2013, not long after having a go at the club’s fans on Twitter.

By this time, Ranger had a real bad boy reputation, but League One side Swindon Town decided to hand him a one-year contract and see if he could get his act together. Despite a decent start to his Swindon spell, Ranger’s rule-breaking ways came back to bite him. He didn’t turn up for training and was accused of being disrespectful to the club, with his contract being ended early.

History repeated itself at Blackpool, where Ranger again started brightly but was let go for failing to turn up for pre-season, and the same thing happened all over again at Southend United. Ranger joined the club in 2016 and went on a good scoring run, but injuries and a fraud case put paid to another promising shot at a career rival, with yet another contract termination added to his grim CV.

Ranger is currently without a club but is training with Oxford United. He’s 27 years old and there’s no telling what sort of career he could be enjoying at this age if he’d managed to stay on the straight and narrow all those years ago. As he has proven with successively impressive starts at almost every club he’s played with, he has a lot of talent, but he’s not going to be given many more chances. Let’s hope for his sake he can turn his career around at Oxford United!

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Mike Pedley

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