A controversial ex-Premier League player is in training with one particular League Two club according to reports on Monday afternoon.
Nile Ranger is said to be playing football once again with Southend United, Echosport understands, with the club bottom of the League Two table.
The 29-year-old striker has not played in the English Football League since leaving the Shrimpers back in January 2018.
But Echo-News say that he was back at Boots & Laces with the Shrimpers this morning and hinted as much by posting two pictures on his Snapchat story.
Ranger told Echosport back in February he would be willing to play for the Shrimpers for free.
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.
Two months ago, Spalding manager Gaby Zakuani, who has Lomana Tresor LuaLua as his assistant, quickly moved to sign Ranger, who has been without a club since leaving Southend in 2018.
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 he went without a team due to his antics.
Now it seems the controversial ex-Premier League player is in training with his old League Two club again.
“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.”
“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.” Then Sol left.
Ranger ended up scoring a total of 10 goals in 49 games for Southend before having his contract terminated two years ago.
HIS CAREER STATS:
2007–2008 – Southampton
2008–2009 – Newcastle United
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)