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Rangers legend Nacho Novo hoping to be winner in the world of business with Glasgow pub

By Graham Luney

Nacho Novo has discovered that, just like in football, the world of business doesn't always run smoothly.

The Rangers legend is now retired from the game, and there will always be that lingering disappointment his remarkable career ended on a flat note when a high-profile arrival at Glentoran in the summer of 2016 failed to produce the fireworks many had hoped.

Off the pitch, the Gers cult hero was warmly welcomed, and respect for the striker soared even higher when, together with his then agent Bill Peden and in conjunction with Belfast-based charity SOS, he organised a Christmas visit to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast to give around 300 presents to kids staying in the children's unit over the festive period.

It was a heartwarming gesture from the Spaniard, who only weeks after his arrival at Glentoran endured a sickening death threat from dissident republicans.

Then when it became clear that Novo was struggling to recapture the magic on the pitch, the 38-year-old accepted his playing days were over.

Novo, who enjoyed a six-year spell at Ibrox between 2004 and 2010, scoring 73 goals in 255 games in Light Blue after signing from Dundee, returned to Glasgow where he revamped the Angel Bar on Paisley Road West, less than a mile from Ibrox.

The refurbished establishment is now called NN10: Nacho's Bar in reference to the fan favourite's old shirt number.

He's made it a shrine to the Light Blues - decking it out in red, white and blue as well as naming the bars inside after the stadium's stands.

But just as criticism from football fans can strike a nerve, Novo was forced to defend the price of booze in his bar after rumours circled he was charging £4 a pint.

He wrote online: "We are delighted by your great support and contribution to our success so far. Unfortunately, our amazing start has led to some killjoys posting some untruths regarding our pricing and services.

"For those who haven't yet experienced the reality, don't be put off by these falsehoods. Pay us a visit, come see for yourself and enjoy! We're are ready and a big welcome awaits. Nacho."

The criticism didn't stop there as Novo's new bar came under fire for charging fans £10 to watch an Old Firm game.

The pub originally said supporters could get in free for the match on December 30, but had to make a U-turn on the grounds of 'safety'. Some punters raised concerns, with Kirsty Tedford commenting: "Was free the other day and first come first served… how am I supposed to get tickets when I'm in Northern Ireland?"

Novo was unable to net a coaching job at The Oval when Gary Haveron was appointed boss at the end of September 2016, and since leaving the Glens, where he scored four goals in 26 games, he has been strongly linked with positions at League One side Airdrie and Clyde in League Two, but missed out on the roles, and he was also gutted not to have been given the chance to become part of former Ibrox boss Pedro Caixinha's coaching team.

He had applied for the role of 'local assistant' but never got an interview, with Jonatan Johansson eventually getting the gig.

A few offers to continue playing came in, and even Amateur League side East Belfast were linked with Novo after his Glentoran adventure ended, but the player, despite his affection for Northern Ireland, was always likely to return to Scotland and, after some consideration, he called time on his career.

In his personal life, Novo is dating model Stephanie Heaney, a 33-year-old mum of two from Glasgow.

He married Donna Clark in February 2015 after a 10-year engagement, during which their son Javier (7) was born, but the pair split up months later.

While his playing career included three league titles, two Scottish Cups and one League Cup with the Light Blues, Novo may find it more difficult to taste success in the world of business.

He may have hung up the boots but his passion for the game, a healthy dose of which is served up at NN10: Nacho's Bar, hasn't dwindled.

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