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When it comes to my football allegiance I was brought up with a team both north and south of the border, although my team to the south were only just. On my Dad's side was the pledge of allegiance to Carlisle United, whilst my Mum's side of the family all supported Glasgow Rangers and so I was encouraged to support both teams, which I have done ever since. It's because of this I have the urge every now and again to pick up an autobiography of players who have played for Rangers and that in turn was how I came to read Nacho Novo's I Said No Thanks.
Who Is Nacho
For anyone unfamiliar with Rangers and Scottish football in general, Nacho Novo is a Spanish striker who currently plays for Sporting de Gijon in the Spanish top division. Prior to his move back to Spain he spent 6 years playing for Glasgow Rangers, 2 years before that at Dundee and a further year before that at Raith Rovers after moving over from Spain in 2001. He is the latest in a long line of foreign players who have taken the blue and white of Rangers to heart and as a result is much loved by one half of the Old Firm and as this book shows hated by the other half.
Once A Ranger, Always A Ranger
This autobiography was written as Nacho's time in Glasgow was coming to an end towards the end of the 2009/2010 season. It is a quite open and frank account of Novo's time in Scotland and how the fairytale all came about. He describes the chance present of a football shirt that turned him into a Rangers fan before he even knew anything about them. It has an interesting split to the book as he tries to keep his current family life confined to a chapter, whilst the younger Nacho Novo and his family life growing up is described in full detail. I felt this was actually a nice separation of what made him who he is and the mentions of his current family are only to put certain rumours right.
One thing that is evident over the course of the book is just how much family means to him and the way he describes his reaction to his mother's death is very moving and really highlights him as someone who really wears his heart on his sleeve. This is the reason he has been such a popular footballer as well and ever since he said no thank you to Celtic and joined Rangers from Dundee he has been a fans favourite in Govan.
As well as detailing his early life and his desires as a child the book also details his career to date from playing in the Spanish lower leagues to his move to Raith and then subsequently to Dundee and Rangers. The way he describes the seasons, the managers and the stories from his career you get an insight into each club and what Nacho was like at those times. He focuses more on his involvement and what was happening at the club rather than detailing every match, which I thought worked really well.
Perhaps the best aspect of the book is how candidly he talks about his love for Rangers. It seems to be quite common for foreign players to take the club to their heart and Novo seems to really typify that. You get the feeling from what and how he says things that the images of him kissing the shirt really are because he loves the club and after 6 years and scoring some vital goals I was glad he finished it off with an honest and passionate account of what the club really mean to him.
My only real complaint about the book is one that I have with many sports persons autobiographies, although with Nacho's it is perhaps even more pertinent. I'd much rather a player waited till they ended their careers and this book is the prime example why. Last Summer saw Nacho leave Rangers after 6 years and this book was clearly an attempt to cash in on his time with the club, but by rushing to release it before he left there is something quite crucial missing from it, any detail of his last season with the club. In their haste they have missed his farewell season from any inclusion in the book and I think had they waited a few more months it would have been a bit more complete and I doubt it would have hit the sales figures that hard.
He is a player the Scottish public took to heart, well at least the public who support the clubs he played for. The book is an open and honest look at his career up to leaving Rangers and gives him a chance to explain a few personal issues that seemed to follow him about. The abuse he suffered from Celtic fans, including death threats against him and his son, are unnecessary and show a side to football that really isn't needed. Despite the premature release I enjoyed reading this book and as a Rangers fan it is worth a look. If you like sports autobiographies it is pretty standard fair and likewise I would say it's worth a read, unless of course you support Celtic, in which case it'd make good kindling perhaps?
Amazon Marketplace: £7.98