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Glentoran sign ex-Rangers star Nacho Novo

By Stuart McKinley

Published 26/07/2016

Major signing: Nacho Novo is on his way The Oval
Major signing: Nacho Novo is on his way The Oval

Glentoran have confirmed the signing of ex-Rangers legend Nacho Novo.

The 37-year-old Spaniard is set to be unveiled at The Oval tonight.

With the new Danske Bank Premiership season just 10 days away that will send excitement levels through the roof, particularly among Glenmen.

More: Rangers legend Nacho Novo celebrates the Twelfth in Belfast

Novo won three league titles during a six-year spell at Rangers, as well as appearing in the 2008 Uefa Cup final defeat to Zenit St Petersburg alongside current Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis.

He has played in his native Spain, Poland and England since leaving Ibrox in 2010 and most recently had two seasons in America's second tier with the Carolina Railhawks, who are managed by former Northern Ireland international Colin Clarke.

Nacho said: "I would like to thank the Chairman and Directors of Glentoran FC for giving me this opportunity to play for such a famous club with a long and proud history in East Belfast and beyond.

"I look forward to helping Glentoran FC become successful again and would particularly thank Simon Kitchen (Commercial director) and Bill Peden (football agent) for working so hard to make this move possible. Bless them all!!”

Manager Alan Kernaghan, who was a coach at Rangers during Nacho’s playing career there, said: “Nacho played at Rangers while I was a coach there. I’ve seen him play on many occasions and I have always admired his work ethic and professionalism both on and off the pitch. We need experience and leadership in the changing room and off the pitch and I’m confident Nacho’s obvious enjoyment of being part of the team unit will be crucial in helping us push forward this season and to secure the progress we all want to see.

"In addition to what he brings on the pitch as a player I also believe that Nacho – along with our other more experienced signings this window – will give our younger players the guidance, and encouragement they need and that he will lead by example. He will be based in Northern Ireland and will train with his team mates 3 nights each week.

"This and our other signings demonstrate are a clear sign of intent from this club as we seek all work together to re-establish Glentoran at the upper end of the NIFL Premiership and compete successfully in the cup competitions."

Novo's arrival in the Irish League comes during a summer when three high-profile Northern Ireland internationals have also signed for local clubs.

Roy Carroll joined Linfield after returning from duty with his country at Euro 2016 and he was joined at the Blues last week by Sammy Clingan, who is attempting to rebuild his career after injury.

Paddy McCourt, who spent five seasons on the opposite side of the Old Firm from Novo, has joined Glenavon after deciding to return home to his native Londonderry when his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Glentoran's statement in full

Glentoran is delighted to announce the signing of Nacho Novo on a one year contract.

Nacho joins the club following a spell Carolina Railhawks in the North American Soccer League. However, he is best known for the 6 phenomenally successful years he spent with Rangers in the SPL.

During his time at Ibrox Nacho made 253 appearances for the Light Blues, scoring 72 goals. Among his most famous goals were the only goal of the game away to Hibs that clinched the Championship on “Helicopter Sunday” 2005, a long range wonder strike to give Rangers a 1 v 0 win over Falkirk in the 2009 Scottish Cup Final at Hampden Park, and perhaps most famously the winning penalty against Fiorentina in Florence to win the UEFA Cup semi final in 2008. He played in the subsequent UEFA Cup Final against Zenit St Petersburg in Manchester

While at Rangers Nacho won 3 Championship winner's medals, a Scottish Cup Winners Cup medal and 3 League Cup winner's medals. In 2014 he received the highest possible personal accolade at Ibrox when Rangers supporters voted him into the Rangers Hall of Fame. He also won a Polish Cup winners medal in 2012 when playing for Legia Warsaw.

Apart from his standout years at Rangers, Nacho has also played in La Liga in his native Spain for Sporting Gijon and Huesca, for Legia Warsaw in Poland, Dundee and Raith Rovers in Scotland, and Carlisle United.

Manager Alan Kernaghan, who was a coach at Rangers during Nacho’s playing career there, said today: “Nacho played at Rangers while I was a coach there. I’ve seen him play on many occasions and I have always admired his work ethic and professionalism both on and off the pitch. We need experience and leadership in the changing room and off the pitch and I’m confident Nacho’s obvious enjoyment of being part of the team unit will be crucial in helping us push forward this season and to secure the progress we all want to see.

"Throughout his career Nacho has always proven to be a player who has thrived on the big occasion and on the expectations associated with playing for a big club. He has consistently excelled and scored goals in high profile games and high pressure situations. That is essential at a club like Glentoran.

"In addition to what he brings on the pitch as a player I also believe that Nacho – along with our other more experienced signings this window – will give our younger players the guidance, and encouragement they need and that he will lead by example. He will be based in Northern Ireland and will train with his team mates 3 nights each week.

"This and our other signings demonstrate are a clear sign of intent from this club as we seek all work together to re-establish Glentoran at the upper end of the NIFL Premiership and compete successfully in the cup competitions.”

Nacho: “I would like to thank the Chairman and Directors of Glentoran FC for giving me this opportunity to play for such a famous club with a long and proud history in East Belfast and beyond. I look forward to helping Glentoran FC become successful again and would particularly thank Simon Kitchen (Commercial director) and Bill Peden (football agent) for working so hard to make this move possible. Bless them all!!”

Chairman Stephen Henderson: “This signing would not have been possible without the most generous financial assistance from key sponsors and supporters. We also owe a debt of gratitude to our Commercial Director, Simon Kitchen for his amazing efforts in successfully securing this funding at such short notice".

Belfast Telegraph

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