Spalding United

Notoriously outspoken footballer Marcus Maddison has opened up on his shock move to non-league Spalding United, after several years in the professional game destroyed his mental health.

In an interview with SPORTbible, Marcus Maddison said he was in a very dark place during his time as a professional footballer, and the 27-year-old is hoping to fall back in love with the game now that he’s gone part-time.

The Durham-born attacking midfielder was tipped for big things during his six-year spell at Peterborough United, but he admits that his love for football was slowly fading throughout.

His career seemed to be all but over after a number of unsuccessful stints in the football league, but last month Marcus dropped four divisions to join part-timers Spalding United in the Northern Premier League South/East Division.

He said: “In Peterborough I became a villain for no reason. My car got keyed on my drive, I’ve been punched on nights out – all because of the way I play football.

“People can’t differentiate between the man that’s a footballer and the man who is a normal person.”

Marcus is exactly that, a normal guy. The night before each match at Peterborough, he would eat a chicken tikka masala, and on the day of the game he’d buy a £3 Tesco meal deal.

He references one particular incident where he planned to crash his car in an attempt to get out of training. “I just didn’t want to be there”, he said.

After leaving Peterborough he had disappointing spells at Hull City, Charlon Athletic and Bolton Wanderers, which all factored into the downward spiral of Maddison’s mental wellbeing.

His move to Bolton was cut short after just ten appearances, and Marcus says it left him questioning what direction his career and life were going in.

He added: “I’ve tried to fit in and be happy but if I can’t be happy in a winning team fighting for promotion it’s clearly something deeper.

“Football has a very specific kind of banter. And if you don’t fit into that category, and you don’t enjoy that sort of banter, you’re not going to have many friends.”

Off the pitch he has developed a negative reputation among football supporters, and spates of online abuse have really affected Marcus to the point where he’s at a crossroads.

He revealed that he gets abusive messages on a daily basis on social media, something which has contributed to his loss of love for football.

Maddison surprised everyone in the English footballing world when he dropped down to the eighth tier to join part-time Lincolnshire side Spalding United in May, aiming to first and foremost remember why he plays the game of football.

He joined the club off the back of his relationship with former Peterborough United teammate and current manager of Spalding United, Gabriel Zakuani.

Marcus said: “Gaby is a huge thing for me. He reached out to me first. It was literally that. It was like a first-come, first-served kind of thing. I know him well. He’ll let me play how I kind of want to play. He’ll give me free rein.”

Nile Ranger, the 29-year-old controversial former Premier League striker, has left Spalding United after just one appearance to rejoin League Two side Southend United.

Ranger, who only joined the Northern Premier League Division One South East club in October, scored in his only competitive appearance at the Lincolnshire side.

The goal came in a 3-3 draw with Belper Town on October 31, before the season was postponed due to coronavirus lockdown.

He will now look to revitalise his professional career in the EFL, with Southend United, where he spent two years between 2016 and 2018.

The 29-year-old has joined Southend on an incentivised month-to-month contract.

Ranger is a player who has been hailed for his abilities, but criticised for his conduct, regularly having run-ins with the law during his life.

When he was just 15-years-old, the former Newcastle United striker spent 11 weeks in a Young Offenders Institute for a robbery charge.

As well as this, he has been charged with being drunk and disorderly, assaulting a man in Newcastle, and served a prison sentence in 2016 for conspiracy to defraud and commit money laundering.

Ranger previously tweeted denying rumours that he was joining Southend, but the deal has been finalised.

He has been included in their 25-man squad for the rest of the season.

Southend boss Mark Molesley said that Nile Ranger has been training with the Shrimpers for two months to keep himself fit.

Molesley said: “Nile has still got to earn the right to play for this club and he knows that himself. Everyone has to earn the right.

“He has got to repay the faith I have shown him on the pitch, and I am excited to see a fully fit Nile play for this football club.”

A former Premier League striker with a controversial past has joined Spalding United in a week that has seen the non-league club sign four other new players and appoint a new management team.

Nile Ranger, whose former clubs include Premier League side Newcastle, joined the Northern Premier League Division One South East club on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old, who also played for Blackpool, Swindon and Southend, joins with a troubled past having been sentenced to 11 weeks in a Young Offenders Institute over a robbery when he was just 15-years-old.

In 2011 he was questioned by Newcastle for posing with a replica gun in a photograph and later that year he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a man in the city centre, leaving the victim unconscious on the street.

In October 2011 he was charged with being drunk and disorderly in Newcastle’s Cathedral Square and in March 2012 he was fined by the FA for making homophobic comments on Twitter.

He was also arrested on suspicion of rape in a Newcastle hotel room in January 2013. He was charged with rape in July 2013 before being cleared of the charge in March 2014.

The long list of incidents also includes being arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage to a taxi in Liverpool, which he later pleaded guilty to and was fined £1,000. He claimed that he was angry at being called a rapist by the driver.

Most recently, he was charged in December 2016 with conspiracy to defraud and to commit money laundering. In May 2017 he was sentenced to eight months in prison, but he was released after 10 weeks of his sentence due to “his consistently excellent custodial behaviour”.

Former DR Congo international Gabriel Zakuani was appointed as the new first team manager at Spalding earlier this week, with Neal Spafford taking the role of assistant manager.

On the signing of Ranger, Zakuani said: “I’ve known Nile for many years and we grew up in the same area. He has all the talent in the world and knows he has a point to prove! In the conversations we have had, he wants an opportunity to get himself back on the map.

“I believe he can easily play for any team in League One and most Championship clubs.

“He has promised me he will get his head down and prove to everyone that the penny has dropped. This opportunity will allow people to see he still has the hunger to succeed”

Meanwhile, former Newcastle and Portsmouth striker Lomana Tresor Lua Lua joined the Tulips as an attacking coach,,with Ronayne Marsh-Brown taking the role of first team coach. Shane Spafford remains at the club as physio.