Sport Soccer

Sunday 25 February 2018

Revealed: Former Rangers star Nacho Novo turned down big money offer to join Glentoran

Oval new boy Nacho Novo didn't fancy life in the Indian Premier League which meant Glentoran have been able to make the former Rangers favourite probably the most high-profile signing in the club's history.

The 37-year-old knocked back the opportunity to join the likes of former Premier League stars Luis Garcia, Elano, David James, Freddie Ljungberg, Italian legend Alessandro del Piero and World Cup winners Robert Pires, David Trezeguet in the Indian Super League.

There are huge sums of money to be made there. If he was motivated by finance then Novo would have been in Bengal by now.

Instead, thanks to a Belfast-based pal, he has signed a one-year deal with Glentoran which is understood to be worth £1,000 a week - massive in Irish League terms.

He put his six-year-old son Javier, who lives in Glasgow, first and the Glens are happy to be benefiting from that too.

"I had been asked last year to go to Atletico Kolkata, which is a sister club of Atletico Madrid," said Novo.

Nacho Novo was a firm fans' favourite during his time at Rangers.
Nacho Novo was a firm fans' favourite during his time at Rangers.

"I was in talks this year as well, but I want to be close to my family and my child and I think this was the best place for me."

Novo has travelled a lot during a career that has taken him to Scotland, Poland, England and America before coming to Northern Ireland.

Flying him in from Glasgow every weekend was an option for the Glens - they have agreed a deal for Jonny Addis to do that when he starts university in Liverpool in September - but it was the Spanish striker who insisted that he would be living here.

"I think you need to be training with the players and get to know each other. You need to know your team mates," he said. "They gave me the chance to sign for this club and I want to give them everything that I have."

Running out at The Oval for his Irish League debut against Dungannon Swifts next weekend will be very different for Novo to just six years ago when he was playing in Spain's La Liga for Sporting Gijon against Cristiano Ronaldo and the stars of Real Madrid.

A run-down on the Glens' trophy successes of the past from club chairman Stephen Henderson, however, convinced him that Glentoran was the right club for him at this stage of his career, And if anyone is thinking that his enthusiasm for football has diminished in his late 30s they'd be very much mistaken.

It's one thing saying the right things, but there was genuine excitement in Novo's voice when he spoke at The Oval yesterday, comparing entering the trophy-laden Oval boardroom to when he first stepped into Ibrox to sign for Rangers.

"There is a good history at this club. I never knew as much about history until I met the chairman of the club," he said with a smile.

"He has been great with me and to come in and see everything around the club I can see that there is a lot of history and I like that kind of thing.

"I still have the same feeling as when I signed for every club. I am excited and some people might be surprised by that, but that is my character and my personality."

Neither has Novo come here to ride a gravy train. If he wanted a final pay day he could have got a much bigger one, in either India or elsewhere and he knows that, while many fans of other Irish League clubs will hero worship him because of his time at Rangers, he doesn't want to live off past glories.

"I am not here just to pass my time or to play out my last two years, I want to be a success and I want to do well," he said. "I want to win things and I think this is a club that can challenge for all the trophies.

"I have a lot of friends in football and when they reach 33 or 34-years-old they are getting tired and they aren't interested any more. I still have the hunger, I love training and I love just to compete.

"I won't come here and just live off my name. It is not what I have done before, it is what I do now and I have to work hard and I am the type of person that if I want something I go after it and that is my mentality. Even in training I hate to lose."

Belfast Telegraph

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