As striker Nile Ranger faces suspension from yet another club, Laura Jones asks when is enough really enough?
Football clubs seem to treat Nile Ranger like a bad boy boyfriend. Despite plenty of warnings from the ex-club, the latest squeeze always thinks they are the ones that can change and even tame him.
Southend United’s errant striker, Ranger, is in trouble again. He faces suspension for an undisclosed ‘breach of discipline’. The League One team have already been lenient with Ranger as he failed to disclose that he was awaiting trial for online banking fraud offences.
Despite this apparent deception, Southend noted that this had happened before he signed for the club and therefore it was for him to deal with. But how many times can clubs keep giving Ranger the benefit of the doubt?
Nile Ranger has an arrest record like a bingo card of criminal offences that he’s steadily crossing off. When you have a section on your Wikipedia page called ‘legal history’ and it’s almost as long as the ‘playing career’ section, then maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your life choices.
The North London lad freely admits that he was part of a gang in his younger days but his past has shaped the choices he has made during his football career. Street robbery, rape allegations, drunk and disorderly, assault; this list doesn’t make him desirable to any football club and yet he is an incredibly talented footballer.
Ranger’s raw talent was what earned him a place at Southampton’s academy, a place that most young wannabe football would give their right lung to be chosen for. Yet Ranger couldn’t seem to reign in his behaviour. He received two written warnings – mainly for “going out or messing around in the lodge” – but when he was found to have stolen training kit to give to his friends, his Saints career came to an abrupt end.
I’ve seen first-hand how important Ranger’s capabilities can be on the pitch. When he came on loan to Hillsborough in 2009, his goals were instrumental in securing an automatic promotion spot from League One, scoring on the final day of the season against Wycombe Wanderers to take the Owls back into the Championship. He is strong, if a bit of a lummox at time, but by god the lad knows where the net is. His goal-scoring instincts are natural and that is the saddest part as he could be an asset to any club if his attitude and personal connections were less like an episode of The Wire.
Southend United were unaware he had been charged for online banking fraud which under the circumstances of his previous history, it was perhaps a little naive of the club not to do their due diligence on the player, especially as he could be jailed for this offence.
The only way any club will be able to help Nile Ranger truly fulfil his potential is when he decides to help himself and the older he gets it seems unlikely this will happen.
While football clubs will always be desperate for a 20-goal-a-season striker, the price they are willing to pay for that doesn’t include pencilling in custodial time.
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