NILE Ranger has insisted his trouble-laden past which dogged his time at Swindon Town is now firmly behind him, as he searches for a new club in a bid to rebuild his career.

Speaking exclusively to the Advertiser, the former Swindon striker admitted his rape trial, following which he was acquitted, ensured the County Ground fans never saw the best of him during his one season in Wiltshire before he left the club by mutual consent.

Ranger, who is currently on bail after being charged with criminal damage, which he denies, also failed to report for training on a number of occasions but accepts he needs to sort things out if he is to make the most of his undoubted talent.

The striker had nothing but good words to say about the Swindon staff, players and fans and is grateful for the way everyone connected to the club supported him through a tough period in his life.

“I enjoyed my time at Swindon, and I was here as a young boy before I went to Newcastle so I knew what the set-up was like,” he said.

“Everyone’s good, the staff the players and the fans. The fans were always the 12th man and were always there pushing us on, so I have most respect for the fans.

“There was more to come from me for sure. Obviously there was a stage where I was a little AWOL and then the injury in February killed me, because we were looking for play-offs and doing well.

“It just wasn’t meant to be.

“The only problem I did have was the off-field issues, that was hard.

“I have to cut that out and then I’ll be alright. The club bent over backwards for me, the chairmen, the staff and the manager were great. The assistant manager and the players and the fans were amazing, they were all good.

“It’s hard because I had a few things going on before I got here, a few cases, and that’s all out the way now so wherever I start again is a clean slate. There was a lot in my head in that time and a lot of things bringing me down and that made life hard for me. Swindon knew all that and they stuck by me.

“Off-field issues are all done and all finished so I need to get back on track now and let my football do the talking.”

Ranger’s season was ended by a hamstring tear on Valentine’s Day, with his release meaning he has had to recuperate on his own as he bids to find a new club, but he is extremely confident of agreeing a deal in the coming weeks.

“I’ve got to go through all my own physiotherapy at the moment but it’s all going pretty well,” he said.

“It was hard at the start, really hard, but it has to be done and I have to do it.

“There’s talks at the minute but it’s just talks, so we have to wait and see what happens. We’ve got the whole summer.

“I’m going to get a club, definitely, but it’s just about waiting.”