One particular controversial ex-Premier League player is reportedly in training with National League club and high flyers Boreham Wood.
Forward Nile Ranger returned to Southend United for a second spell last season, however he picked up a groin injury on his first game back against Salford City, and that needed surgery.
The 30-year-old has been without a club since leaving the Blues at the end of the 2020/21 campaign, but now he’s set at Boreham Wood who find themselves second in the top tier of non league football.
In May 2021, he admitted obstructing a police officer after being pulled over for drink driving on Christmas Eve – and Southend’s Phil Brown said they were ‘severing all ties’ with him after he failed to attend physiotherapy sessions.
The player was taken to Heathrow Police station on suspicion of drunk driving last year and was said to have refused to test how much alcohol he had drunk at the station’s custody suite.
Ranger pleaded guilty to obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty at Ealing Magistrates’ Court.
His trial for failing to provide a specimen of breath was adjourned after CCTV footage of what happened at the police station had failed to be provided to the defence.
Mr Brown told the Echo back then: ‘He was on a three strike scheme meaning if he was late for three appointments, which is he notoriously renowned for, he would be out.
‘That was verbalised to both himself and the PFA. But the very first three appointments he never showed for.
‘Never mind being late he just never showed at all so that shows you what you were dealing with.
‘Consequently we severed all ties and all relationships with him.’
He added that the cut on Ranger’s groin had gone septic, claiming it was ‘down to his inactivity’, and Southend had provided a ‘platform and an opportunity for him to get fit and stake a claim for a contract for next year.’
This was the latest in a long line of troubles for Ranger, who said the game has ‘pretty much washed its hands’ of him.
At Ealing Magistrates’ Court earlier this year, Ranger turned up to the hearing in a Nike tracksuit and was allowed to sit outside the dock.
Caitlin Evans, representing the footballer, said: ‘It is Mr Ranger’s case the officer’s account, which was received on 5 May, that there are discrepancies.
‘Critically the main issue is whether the statutory warning is given.
‘In my submission, it is in the interest of justice for CCTV footage to be provided. It’s critical to both the defence and Crown’s case.
‘I would submit that with the Crown serving this evidence so late, a month after it was due and a few days before the trial, the defence has not had time.
‘It would be in the interest of justice for an adjournment to be granted.
‘The defence is at a disadvantage to counter the words of an officer when CCTV footage has not been produced.’
Beata Murphy, prosecuting, opposed the adjournment as two police officers who were going to be witnesses in the trial had attended the hearing.
Magistrate chair Grace Dent said: ‘We have fully considered the request and we are going to grant an adjournment as we believe it would be in the interest of justice.
‘The CPS should provide footage of the custody procedure on CCTV to the defence. The adjournment is granted.’
In an interview with Four Four Two in 2020, Ranger said the game has ‘pretty much washed its hands’ of him and he is treated like the ‘Osama Bin Laden of football’.
He said: ‘I hope and pray I’ll get one last chance. If I do, I’m ready to grab it with both hands.’
He was released on unconditional bail.
Nile Ranger recently opened up on his journey through life, football, talking about the pros and cons of finding success at a young age, and being sentenced to prison.
James Alabi, Femi Ilesanmi and Medy Elito (Don E) spoke with him in a brand-new episode of their Baller Talk podcast – have a watch for yourself below…
Previously with Crystal Palace and Southampton, Ranger finished his youth career at Newcastle, where he made his professional debut and was part of their team which won the Championship in 2009–10.
Later on in his spell at St James’s Park, he was loaned to Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday. He played international football for England under 19s.
After leaving Newcastle by mutual consent in 2013, he went on to play for Swindon Town, Blackpool and Southend United in the English Football League, with his spells at all three clubs being hindered by disciplinary issues including multiple absences from training.
Ranger, who was incarcerated for involvement in armed robbery as a teenager, served a prison sentence for fraud in 2017.
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)
2020–2021 – Spalding United – 1 game (1 goal)
2021 – Southend United – 1 game (0 goals)
2009–2010 – England U19 – 11 games (6 goals)
Fans (mainly that of Southend) reacted with the controversial ex-Premier League player in training with National League club Boreham Wood…
@michealward183: He upgraded from Southend then
Peter Noakes: No longer our problem
Kevin King: We should have got him signed up just the striker we need
Tim Hobden: Kevin King we did. Twice? He literally screwed it up. Club gave him plenty of chances.
Chris Leonard: 3rd time lucky?
Gary Clegg: Just don’t bother carry on with your drug’s
Gary Clegg: James Drabble his been on drugs for past 6 years that’s why he got kick out of Newcastle it’s not rocket science to work out
Anthony Colbourn: Rather them then us
Richard Fry: Could be a good fit for their promotion push 😂
Jim Hargis: They can have him
Alexander Wright: Too good for us at the moment.
Jonathan Round: If half fit he’d still be the 2nd best forward at the club worst case