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Step 8 club signs controversial ex-Premier League and EFL player

News is quickly going viral on Thursday that a Step 8 club signs a controversial ex-Premier League and EFL player in Nile Ranger.

He last played professional football in 2018, and more recently turned out for Barnet Sunday League side AC United to keep his fitness up before joining the Northern Premier League Division One South East club.

Spalding manager Gaby Zakuani, who has Lomana Tresor LuaLua as his assistant, was announced as boss on Tuesday and has quickly moved to sign Ranger, who has been without a club since leaving Southend in 2018.

A club tweet read: “Spalding United are pleased to announce that former Premier League Striker Nile Ranger is joining the Tulips Squad!

Zakuani: “I’ve known Nile for many years and we grew up in the same area. He has all the talent in the world and knows he has a point to prove! In the conversations we have had, he wants an opportunity to get himself back on the map.

“I believe he can easily play for any team in league one and most championship clubs. He has promised me he will get his head down and prove to everyone that the penny has dropped. This opportunity will allow people to see he still has the hunger to succeed”

Ranger represented England at under-19 level but has been in no short of trouble by disciplinary problems throughout his career and was jailed in 2017 after admitting online banking fraud.

Southend terminated his contract in January 2018 after more disciplinary issues.

He borrowed as much as £70k from fellow team-mates to pay his gambling debts.

The player, who was once heralded as a future star when he broke into the Magpies team in 2009, took the cash prior to being banned from casinos.

He’s opened up in an interview with FourFourTwo about that time, and how his career has since spiralled, and now he’s without a club due to his antics.

“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.”

He did win the Championship with the Magpies in 2009-10, scoring twice in 25 appearances, however that promising start diminished 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.”

Ranger pleaded to play for Southend United at no cost.

He took to Twitter and wrote: “I would come and play for free to help the SHRIMPERS.. I owe it to the fans?”

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“It’s really exciting to be attracting these sort of guys that want to play in our league. I think we both know he’s probably not going to turn up every week but it just goes to show that Sunday league is going up a level. A lot more people are taking a lot more interest in it.”

Ranger, troubled by disciplinary problems throughout his career, responded on Twitter.

“I have not signed for any Sunday league club,” the 29-year-old tweeted. “I was only going to play a few games for fitness, but I have not signed for any club.”

Ranger represented England at under-19 level but has been in no short of trouble by disciplinary problems throughout his career and was jailed in 2017 after admitting online banking fraud.

Southend terminated his contract in January 2018 after more disciplinary issues.

He borrowed as much as £70k from fellow team-mates to pay his gambling debts.

The player, who was once heralded as a future star when he broke into the Magpies team in 2009, took the cash prior to being banned from casinos.

Now he’s opened up in an interview with FourFourTwo about that time, and how his career has since spiralled, and now he’s without a club due to his antics.

“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.”

He did win the Championship with the Magpies in 2009-10, scoring twice in 25 appearances, however that promising start diminished 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.”

Ranger pleaded to play for Southend United at no cost.

He took to Twitter and wrote: “I would come and play for free to help the SHRIMPERS.. I owe it to the fans?”

Blues chairman Ron Martin revealed Ranger also met with manager Sol Campbell during January, when he reported trained with Oxford United.

Martin said: “Nile stays in touch and had met Sol in January.

“He is therefore on Sol’s radar but for the moment that is as far as it has gone.”

Ranger ended up scoring a total of 10 goals in 49 games before having his contract terminated two years ago.

HIS CAREER STATS:

Youth career
Crystal Palace
2007–2008 – Southampton
2008–2009 – Newcastle United

Senior career
2009–2013 – Newcastle United – 51 games (2 goals)
2011 → Barnsley (loan) – 5 games (0 goals)
2012 → Sheffield Wednesday (loan) – 8 games (2 goals)
2013–2014 – Swindon Town – 23 games (8 goals)
2014–2016 – Blackpool – 14 games (2 goals)
2016–2018 – Southend United – 45 games (10 goals)

National team
2009–2010 – England U19 – 11 games (6 goals)

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