Nile Ranger's extraordinary interview about Newcastle United - including how Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer both backed him
Former Newcastle United bad boy Nile Ranger has opened up about his time at St James's Park in an astonishing interview.
In his near two hour sit down with The True Geordie Podcast, Ranger lifted the lid on Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer, Chris Hughton, relegation at Aston Villa and his contract details in open and frank chat.
Read the full transcript below on his controversial time on Tyneside:
On how the Newcastle move came about
“My agent said ‘let’s go to Burger King’… I sat down and he said ‘listen, you’re going to Newcastle tomorrow’.
“I was like, no I’m not, I’m happy here (Swindon), I want to get a contract here.
“Anyway, the next day comes and I didn’t do it (travel to Newcastle). Dennis Wise then got on the phone and said ‘are you a maniac? You don’t want to come to Newcastle and give it a go?’
“I remember – I was living with Sean Morrison (Cardiff City captain) and I said ‘what do you think, Sean?’ he said ‘you should go for it.’
“I headed up to Newcastle. I trained then I think we had a game a few weeks after, like a pre-season game.
"Kevin Keegan was watching – Terry McDermott, Michael Owen – a few of the senior players watched the game.
“Long story short, they signed me, I got a contract - Â£750-a-week and a Â£20,000 signing on fee. I was like, ‘oh my days I can buy the most trainers I want, tracksuits, everything I want in life right now’.
On Kevin Keegan and his first senior team involvement
“I was talking to him (Frank Danquah, former Newcastle youngster), he was involved with the first-team. Keegan was talking (about me): ‘what a player, I’m definitely going to have him involved very soon’.
“So when Keegan eventually saw me, he got me involved with the squad.
“I remember coming in for training on the academy side and Alan Thompson said: ‘Range, I need to talk to you’. I asked ‘what’s up’ and he said to me: ‘you need to pack your stuff, you’re involved with the first-team squad and travelling with them'.
“It was Arsenal. I didn’t know what to do, faint, jump up for joy.
“I met Keegan and because I was so young, I didn’t know what to say… so I said: ‘oh, you alright Keegan?’ and he started laughing for literally five minutes straight – him and Terry McDermott – laughing, creasing, nearly on the floor.
“I was like ‘oh s***, what have I done wrong here’. He (Keegan) said ‘never call me that again, it’s gaffer from now on’.
“I reckon if Keegan stayed, he would have been onto me, I would have shut straight up and I would have got my chance, definitely.”
On Alan Shearer...
The True Geordie asked: ‘Shearer extended your contract, didn’t he? Ranger confirmed: ‘Yes, Shearer did. When Joe Kinnear come, I wasn’t involved really.”
“Shearer was serious, he didn’t mess about – he liked me a lot. He sat me down and said ‘who’s your agent? You want to talk to my agent? I like you'.
“I was at the academy side and he (Shearer) said: ‘I’m going to get you a new deal and you’re now getting changed (at the first-team side)."
“I was like ‘oh my gosh, things are just getting better and better’. I think the deal was Â£2,500 a week – I was 17. You’d get a bonus for being on the bench, if your team won you’d get a bonus – bonuses were crazy.
On Newcastle's relegation at Villa Park
“It was crazy, the lads were distraught. I was outside and Shearer was like ‘everyone get in (the dressing room)'. He said ‘well lads, I’ve told you, I’ve tried to put in a shift’ - literally everyone was distraught.
"I wasn’t sure if everyone wanted to see the back of him. Luckily, I didn’t have to go on that journey back with them (to the North East) – I don’t even want to know how it would have been.
On Chris Hughton and the 2009-10 Championship season
“He (Chris Hughton) is a good guy. He always used to tell me ‘stop rushing home to your girlfriend’ (I had a girlfriend at the time), mingle with the lads.
“He (Hughton) was giving me chances, he was starting me in the Championship games.
"I remember playing against Leicester and getting man of the match. I was sitting there thinking: ‘now it’s happening’. I got a standing ovation. People are noticing me in the town.
“The city is like a fishbowl, everyone knows everyone. I don’t know how they fill out that stadium like that, there is so many people in Newcastle, it’s crazy!
“I swear to you that atmosphere, it’s crazy. That atmosphere, I’ve never seen a thing like it."