Nile Ranger has discussed his troubled past in a frank and open interview for the latest issue of FourFourTwo – including how he was forced to borrow tens of thousands of pounds from his Newcastle team-mates to pay off gambling debts.
The striker, now 29, has not played a professional football match since New Year’s Day 2018, shortly after which he was released by Southend United due to “recurring disciplinary issues”.
Ranger was initially considered a bright prospect at Newcastle until those familiar problems led to his permanent departure from St James’ Park in 2013. As the player admits himself, that pattern of behaviour continued in further short-term spells at Swindon, Blackpool and beyond.
In an exclusive interview for the August 2020 issue of FFT, however – out in shops and available online from July 22 – the former Magpie has opened up about his litany of troubles with the law and beyond, including details of the gambling issues which blighted his time in the North East.
“Off the pitch I’d been in trouble with manager Chris Hughton, who’d been appointed at the beginning of the 2009-10 season,” he explained. “I turned up late for training more than once after developing a taste for midweek nights out, and was also spending far too much free time in casinos.
“I gambled £30,000 in a two-month period and had to borrow £70,000 from Hatem Ben Arfa, Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini to pay my debts. The club found out and instantly banned me from every casino in Newcastle, while Coloccini sat me down and warned me about the dangers of gambling.
“Mark Viduka was a positive influence too, often advising young players to save their money. Alan Smith was another good role model who drove a battered old car despite his big earnings. I still didn’t listen.”
Ranger helped Newcastle win the Championship in 2009-10 by scoring twice in 25 appearances – but that promising start was soon overshadowed, as Hughton and his successor Alan Pardew lost patience.
“A £96,000 promotion bonus landed in my bank account and I spent a chunk of it on a brand new Range Rover,” he admitted. “It soon caught the gaffer’s eye. Andy Carroll then got hold of my car keys at training and parked it in Hughton’s space.
“The gaffer warned me to spend my money wisely and not let it go to my head, but it went in one ear and out the other. I was still doing my bit on the pitch, and scored in a 4-3 League Cup win at Chelsea [in September 2010].
“After the game, I was pulled aside by a club official and told that several tabloid newspapers were going to print a photograph of me holding a gun the next day. My WhatsApp profile picture was me posing with a BB gun, and someone had sent a screenshot to a journalist.
“The club fined me two weeks’ wages, but that was loose change compared to the new five-year contract I was given just three months later. Newcastle had shown me loyalty but I only repaid them with hassle.”
Read the full, incredible interview on guns, bad behaviour and more with Nile Ranger in the August 2020 issue of FourFourTwo – featuring an exclusive cover interview with Dennis Bergkamp, 25 years on from his arrival at Arsenal. We also remember more era-defining icons, ask Djibril Cisse your questions about a colourful career, remember when Celtic halted Ranger’s charge for 10 in a row, chat to Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich, mourn Atalanta’s season of muted celebrations and much more. Grab your copy in shops or online!
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