Former Newcastle striker Nile Ranger believes he is as good as Erling Haaland if he had looked after himself.
The troubled star is without a club since leaving Boreham Wood in the summer of 2022 where he played less than ten minutes of football.
Ranger was hailed as a star in the making when he broke into Newcastle’s first team in 2009 aged just 18, subsequently helping the Magpies achieve promotion to the Premier League under Chris Hughton.
But his career took a downward spiral due to a host of off-field misdemeanours which led to him serving two jail terms and a battle against a gambling addiction.
Ranger, who also had spells with Swindon, Blackpool and Southend, admits he is frustrated and regretful over the way his career has panned out.
“There needs to be a movie on my life,” he told The Athletic. “Because it’s a real one, it’s an interesting one.
“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.
“Every club I’ve had, even as an adult, my mum has had to come in — because they respect her — to see if it could work as a last throw of the dice.
“She is my life coach, she’s probably disappointed deep down I didn’t really go higher… but she always says, ‘Listen, we had a blast, no matter what’.”
Ranger’s gambling habits developed during his time at St James’ Park, and the striker admitted it got out of hand to the point that club chiefs had to step in to prevent him from going to casinos.
“I was doing some mad things,” Ranger continued. “It was bad what I was doing. The chairman (Mike Ashley) tried to help and to stop me from going to casinos. I was going to casinos every single day. I tried it, I started getting hooked.
“Derek Llambias (ex-managing director) phoned me one day and said, ‘We need to have a meeting’. We’re taking it out of your hands – we’ve been hearing you’re going to casinos every day. You’re banned as we own them, you’ll thank me in the long run”.
“I was borrowing money off people, including [Fabrizio] Coloccini. One time, my mum and my sister said, ‘You’ve done £32,000 in the space of two months’. That’s when it hit me hard. My mum said I had to stop.
“I’m an addictive personality. I got addicted to it, that feeling of winning would be outrageous, that adrenaline was crazy.”
The now 32-year-old was sentenced to 11 weeks in a Young Offenders Institute in 2007 after his role in a street robbery in London.
He was also jailed for eight months in 2017 for his involvement in an online banking fraud and admits his mistakes came from peer pressure.
He added: “Some things shouldn’t have happened. When I was young, the robberies, I didn’t want anyone to get hurt or give anyone trauma, I was just following the crowd.
“With that fraud, I feel like it’s not physical but I lined something up where someone can make money from doing that and it’s not right because that can give someone trauma as well.
“It (jail) was terrible, it was 23 hours locked in your cell, it’s shocking. I knew a lot of people in there. Jail’s not for me, I’m not built for jail. You have too much time to reflect. I shouldn’t have gone to jail for that. The judge didn’t listen to me.”