This summer Nile Ranger got, what some say is his “last chance in football.”
The former England U19 has had a number of ups and downs since his time at former Premier League side, Newcastle United.
Nile Ranger started his youth career with Crystal Palace, before briefly moving to Southampton, but the controversial striker is best known for his time with Newcastle United.
Ranger’s career was almost over before it started when he spent time in a Young Offender’s Institute following an armed robbery committed in Muswell Hill.
Following his release from Southampton, Ranger was snapped up by Newcastle United in 2008.
Ranger started his Newcastle career scoring 15 goals for the U18 side as well as seven for The Magpies’ Reserve side. This lead to the forward being rewarded with a three-and-a-half-year contract by manager, Alan Shearer.
The Telegraph reported the player signing a new contract with the headline of; “Alan Shearer to give Newcastle starlet Nile Ranger his chance in relegation dogfight”– going on to describe Ranger as “the club’s most exciting young player.”
Following his first team debut in August 2009 against West Brom, Ranger went on to play a number of games in the Championship including his first start for the club which came against Leicester City. The player won the Man of the Match award, as well as receiving a standing ovation from the Toon fans.
After a successful season with Newcastle, Ranger was part of the side who were promoted back to the Premier League in the 2009/10 season.
In December 2010, Ranger was rewarded with a five-and-a-half-year contract which would keep him at St James Park until 2016.
2011 saw a turn in Ranger’s career, first there was a lack of first team football which resulted in a loan move to Championship side, Barnsley.
A number of legal issues soon followed. The first came in May 2011, when the forward was questioned by Newcastle United, following an image of him posing with a replica gun was released. This was followed by an arrest in August 2011, after Ranger was a suspect in the assault of a male in Newcastle City centre.
Ranger was ultimately dropped to Newcastle United’s reserve team as the case was on going.
In October 2012, the former England U19 was found not guilty of the charge.
This wasn’t the end to Ranger’s relationship with the law as in October 2011, he was charged with being drunk and disorderly. The player had only recently been re-introduced into the first team following a period of time with the side’s reserves.
2012 was a similar story, Ranger found himself being shipped out on loan again, whilst also being in trouble with both The FA and the law.
As the years went on, Ranger would find himself with a new charge against his name.
On 25th January 2013, the former Newcastle youngster was arrested on suspicion of rape in a Newcastle hotel room. A serious offence which as we saw with Ched Evans, can affect your career whilst having the charge against your name.
In August 2013, despite the ongoing court case, Swindon Town signed Ranger on a one-year deal.
After scoring eight league goals, Ranger and Swindon agreed to terminate his contract in May 2013 due to a number of issues surrounding his private life.
Ranger was charged with rape on 8th July 2013 but Newcastle Crown Court cleared the footballer of the charge on 4th March 2014.
The player’s last incident with the law came in 2014 when he was found not guilty of being drunk in charge of his vehicle. Prior to this Ranger had been charged with two criminal damage offences.
Before signing for current side, Southend United, Ranger had a spell with then Championship side, Blackpool who he signed for in August 2013.
The player was left out of Blackpool’s squad ahead of their December fixture against Birmingham leading to him returning to London where he had to deal with apparent family issues.
Blackpool started to take action against their forward by fining him for every day he was absent from the club.
After missing pre-season ahead of the 2015/16 season, Ranger posted a public apology saying: “I have seen two of my good friends pass away. Whilst overcoming this it has made me realise life is really short and I have really been taking things for granted.
“I would like to use this opportunity to thank Southampton, Newcastle, Swindon and Blackpool for giving me the chance to experience the dream of being a professional footballer.
“To add to this I would like to apologise to everyone at these clubs including management, players, staff and fans. I should have given more and been a better role model.
“I would also like to add I am sorry to my current team-mates at Blackpool for being missing for a long period of time and not attending pre-season and putting in the hard work during this time.
“Truth be told I’m just a young boy who has been living the dream and playing a game which I do love and miss deeply, and hope that one day I will be able to get back on a pitch and play because life is really too short.”
Ranger left Blackpool in February 2016, before signing for Southend six months later.
On a side note, I started writing this way back in September but put it on hold to see how Ranger would progress with his current side. Recently I saw a Sun article which spoke to Ranger, therefore I feel that this is a good time to post this article.
Following a recent Sun interview, the piece states: “Nile Ranger claims the penny has finally dropped.”
Ranger told SunSport: “I was in a very dark place for quite a while. I was out the game for two years and it feels amazing to be back.
“No team wanted to touch me and I could understand why.
“In the summer I was speaking to every manager going and they would say, ‘the chairman doesn’t want to do it because you’ve had so many chances, you say the same things over and over again and then you go AWOL’.
From reading this article it seems that Ranger has settled down in life and has realised the opportunity he has to inspire a group of people including young children.
The forward has made six appearances for Southend and recently scored a brace against Bury in Southend’s 4-1 away win.
Southend face Ranger’s former club Swindon on Tuesday night, a fixture where the forward will want to impress and prove his haters wrong.
Ranger’s side are currently 9th in League One, just three points away from 5th place.
I wish Nile Ranger and Southend the best of luck for the rest of the season.
Proof read by Adam Keal and Tom Reyer.