NILE RANGER once pocketed £10,000-a-week and says he could have been as good as Erling Haaland – now he is unemployed after stints in jail.
Although the 32-year-old, who says he has matured since becoming a father two years ago, still believes he can do the business on the pitch and wants to use his experiences to help future stars.
The former England U19 international, who was put in prison in 2017 after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud, initially burst onto the scene at Newcastle United.
That was after he had spent 11 weeks in a young offenders institute for his part in an armed robbery while at Southampton's academy.
He has also been involved in a number of other controversies away from the field as well as playing in the top five divisions of English football.
He caused outrage in 2011 while still at the Magpies after posing with a gun and was later fined £6,000 by the FA in 2012 for making a string of homophobic comments on Twitter.
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Fans also slammed him for posting a picture of his name spelt out in £20 notes that very same year.
Ranger was then convicted of assaulting two police officers in October 2012 and was given a conditional discharge then in 2014 he was cleared of raping a woman in the Carlton Hotel in the city after a week-long trial.
He got himself in trouble at Swindon Town after kicking down the door to his own flat, where he denied a charge of criminal damage but did get fined and made to pay court costs.
While all of these incidents were going on away from the pitch, Ranger, who has also battled a gambling addiction, was making his way down the divisions.
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After four years at Newcastle, which included loan spells at Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday, he left on a free transfer in 2013 just two years into a five-year £10,000-a-week deal.
A year at Swindon was followed by a two-year stint at Blackpool before a move to Southend United in 2016.
That ended in 2018, and since then, he has featured in one game for Spalding United in the Northern Premier League Division One South East in the eighth tier, a brief 12 minute return for Southend in League Two and then one-season spell at Boreham Wood in the National League.
Speaking to The Athletic, Ranger said: “There needs to be a movie on my life because it’s a real one, it’s an interesting one.”
The 6ft 2in forward, who has a number of eye-catching tattoos, has been without a team since his departure from Boreham Wood nearly a year-and-a-half ago.
He says: “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.
“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.
“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.”
However, despite all of the controversies, he still insists that he is desperate for one more shot.
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Ranger added: “I know I’m very good at football, people can play to 38 or 39. I can still play. I want to get back then I can climb.
“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.”
If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 116123.
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