NA­CHO’S MA­CHO ABOUT CARLISLE

He snubs Sin­ga­pore for Eng­land

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Paddy von Behr

INTO his mid-30s and with­out a club since Christ­mas Eve, for­mer Rangers striker Na­cho Novo could be for­given for seek­ing a com­fort­able path to re­tire­ment.

But not even an en­tic­ing con­tract from Steve Kean in Sing­paore could tempt the Spa­niard away from a crack at the Foot­ball League with Carlisle.

Since leav­ing Rangers in 2010 two sea­sons in Spain with Sport­ing Gi­jon and one at Huesca – with a spell at Le­gia War­saw in be­tween – had the Novo fam­ily long­ing for Bri­tish shores once more.

But an un­suc­cess­ful spell at Greenock Mor­ton – with just one goal in ten ap­pear­ances – saw the 34-yearold’s con­tract with the Scot­tish Cham­pi­onship side ter­mi­nated on De­cem­ber 24.

There was no short­age of in­ter­est, though. Newly-formed In­di­anapolis­based club Indy Eleven tabled an of­fer and ex-Black­burn boss Steve Kean called about Brunei DPMM – but Novo plumped for Carlisle United.

Im­por­tant

“Steve of­fered a very good con­tract but you need to think more about the fam­ily,” said Novo.

“He said he would like to take me over there – to book a flight and see the area and that it was quite a nice place.

“One time I was think­ing I would maybe go for a look and see how it is. It was a close thing, but ob­vi­ously the fam­ily is most im­por­tant and I don’t think they were happy to move over there.”

Novo had al­most found his way to Eng­land eight years ear­lier, but a move to Coven­try col­lapsed on trans­fer dead­line day in Au­gust 2006.

French­man Paul Le Guen had ar­rived to man­age Rangers and Novo was sud­denly out of favour, with the Sky Blues happy to cap­i­talise.

“Some­times when you change man­agers, the new man­ager wants to change some play­ers,” Novo said. “I was close to go­ing but I de­cided to stay and fight for my place.”

Novo, who net­ted 71 times in a sixyear spell with Rangers, has had to wait un­til the twi­light of a fruit­ful ca­reer to find his way south of the bor­der.

And the Span­ish goal-get­ter is hop­ing to see the stresses and strains of the last few years melt away – and get back to sim­ply en­joy­ing his foot­ball once more.

“I love Eng­land,” said Novo. “I think the foot­ball is great and quite com­pet­i­tive and it is one of the best leagues.

“It is not the same at­mos­phere (abroad) that you get in the UK – the fans make it a big thing. You can see all the Span­ish play­ers come here to the Pre­mier League.

“As soon as you play here and go back to any other coun­try, the fans and the sup­port are not the same.

“Now I have the op­por­tu­nity in Carlisle and I just want to en­joy it and prove that I still have lots of things to of­fer. Ob­vi­ously I am 34 but I still feel like I’m 17 – I just love the game. “I wanted to go to a good club – a club with his­tory – and just worry about do­ing well and en­joy­ing the foot­ball.” And he ad­mit­ted his new lo­ca­tion has an added ben­e­fit – Novo is not far from his friend, Manch­ester City striker Al­varo Ne­gredo. “I am quite good friends with Ne­gredo,” he added. “Ob­vi­ously he is do­ing well.

“He is a good player and a nice boy and he is ab­so­lutely en­joy­ing it at a big club. “It is not too far away so prob­a­bly I will have days when we don’t play and I will go down to see him.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CHAM­PION: Na­cho Novo cel­e­brates win­ning the Scot­tish Pre­mier with Rangers

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