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The story of Nacho Novo | El Centrocampista
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El Centrocampista

Glasgow Divide – The Spaniard who split Rangers and Celtic

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The Scottish city of Glasgow is home to one of the fiercest rivalries in world football with the countries two biggest clubs, Rangers and Celtic, having battled for dominance for almost 125 years.

Rangers currently have the edge over their neighbours with 159 victories compared to Celtic’s 144, and have also won the league title 11 more times than current champions Celtic, however it is fair to say there is only one club in the city that are are currently celebrating as they head towards a new season.

Years of financial mismanagement have left the Gers on the brink of the abyss as they prepare to go into liquidation, hoping the remaining 11 Scottish Premier League clubs will vote in favour of allowing the ‘newco’ Rangers back in to SPL.

While supporters of the Bhoys will no doubt be rejoicing in the demise of their bitter rivals, there will be many who will be secretly fearful of how the situation will affect their own club.

After all, beyond the annual Old Firm games, there are precious few other domestic encounters that challenge either Celtic or Rangers – in fact it is a staggering 28 years since a team outside the Glasgow duopoly won the league.

The rivalry is far more than a sporting battle for local bragging rights and has, at its heart, an undercurrent of sectarian tension that is seldom far from the surface. However the rivalry has also manifested itself in many other  ways over the years and a number of players from both sides of the divide have become targets of abuse.

The story of one such player is perhaps more befitting a Hollywood script than that of a Spanish player who finished last season playing in the Polish first division.

Galician-born Nacho Novo left his homeland in 2001 to joined Scottish First Division side Raith Rovers in a deal said to net him the modest sum of £250-per-week. Few players would have swapped their homeland for the harsh winters of Kirkcaldy, but Novo’s decision to move to Stark’s Park was one that paid dividend and some star performances soon attracted admirers in Scotland’s top division.

Dundee finally brought Novo into the Premier League when they paid £100,00 for his services in July 2002 and he went on to score 26 goals in 71 games for the east-coast club.

It was at Glasgow Rangers where Nacho Novo found his calling however – choosing to join Alex McLeish’s side after reported overtures from Martin O’Neil at Parkhead. While this decision proved a minor inconvenience to Celtic fans, Novo went on to enrage them after a number of controversial incidents involving the two sides – unsurprisingly becoming ever more popular with those on the blue half of the city.

With that in mind, it is also little surprise that Nacho’s recent autobiography was a bestseller last Christmas. Paying specific reference to that decision to turn down Celtic, the book entitled ‘I said no thanks’ casts an intriguing insight into the life of the man who is said to have split Glasgow like no one else before him.

Despite any controversies, Novo proved a huge success at Ibrox and played 179 for the club – winning three league titles, one cup and two league cups in the process. With the perceived technical flair of Spanish footballers currently in high demand across Europe, Novo could well prove to be the inspiration for many young footballers who seek to move in order to get regular first team football.

While the only thing that the Spanish and Scottish leagues have in common is the duopoly at the top of them, it is hard to argue that Scotland wouldn’t benefit from an influx of young Spanish talent. In fact, and as reported on El Centrocampista last year, Kilmarnock have recently established a link with Osasuna. More deals of the same type could well emerge in the next coming months.

Novo ended his seven year exile in Scotland when he returned to Sporting Gijon at the beginning of last season, however the player was shipped out by new coach Javier Clemente  in January after a war of words with the notoriously-prickly Basque tactician.

The 33-year-old found himself in the Polish capital of Warsaw where he played 11 games for Legia as they finished third in the Ekstraklasa, however it proved a disappointing cameo for Novo as he failed to add to the three goals he had scored while still playing for Sporting.

Fans of Rangers remember Novo with a passion reserved for few foreigners, and the adoration appears mutual. Recently asked about his time in Glasgow, Novo responded by  saying it was ‘the best period’ of his live before he added: “There was no better feeling than hearing your name sung by the crowd at Ibrox – especially after we had beaten Celtic.”

Nacho Novo, it seems, will continue to divide opinion on the streets of Glasgow.




39 Comments

  1. PIRATEBHOY

    16 June, 2012 at 14:13

    RANGERS ARE DEAD 🙂

    • wallsa

      16 June, 2012 at 17:56

      no no no

  2. COYBIG

    16 June, 2012 at 14:26

    He did not really split Glasgow did he?, Mo Johnston did, Gascoigne did, Neil Lennon has, but Novo ?, I do not think so, he was really just an over rated bit part player.

  3. forspa

    16 June, 2012 at 14:38

    Yawn, a reserve striker who played up to the fans to become a pantomime hero/villain

  4. Corky Buczek

    16 June, 2012 at 14:47

    No disrespect but that article really is a lot of nonsense.

    Various players have snubbed one half of the Old Firm to join the other – Gordan Petric, Alan McLaren both chose Rangers over Celtic.

    Scott Brown and Kris Commons chose Celtic over Rangers.

    All those players have carried on their careers without vitriol for having chosen one Glasgow team over another.

    The reason that Celtic fans have a particular disregard for Nacho Novo was both his antics on the pitch (dangerous tackles) and above all his love of abusing the green half of Glasgow. Taunts shown on TV after they had won titles, gestures to Celtic fans etc.

    There is an expression in Glasgow for players who make up for their inadequacies by kissing the club badge and going on about how much they love the club – corner boy. Step forward Mr Nacho Novo.

    The title of his book says everything – the guy says he love Rangers and it was the best time of his life yet the name of his book is about how he snubbed Celtic.

    The verbal abuse he gets from one half of the Old Firm and his cult status amongst the other merely disguises a player of no class and no particular ability.

  5. James

    16 June, 2012 at 14:55

    Rangers DON’t EXIST!

    • wallsa

      16 June, 2012 at 17:58

      oh yes we do

      • ewanbhoy

        16 June, 2012 at 20:44

        sorry mate but u died.
        time to get your head out of the sand

  6. Big Mal

    16 June, 2012 at 14:57

    Rangers cheated their way to many titles which will now be taken away from them!

  7. Albhoy82

    16 June, 2012 at 15:12

    I’ve read some pish on the Internet before but this takes the biscuit!
    Celtic fans didn’t dislike him because he didn’t sign for our club , we
    can accept things like that, they disliked him because he was a sub
    standard player who played to the crowd at the club formerly known
    as rangers!

  8. sligotim

    16 June, 2012 at 15:25

    You forgot to add the his name is on EBTs that has been part of the old rankers downfall,

  9. Stepen

    16 June, 2012 at 15:36

    Nacho Novo was an ok player for rangers, the truth of the matter is on his way to sign for Rangers his agent arranged for him to see Celtic. Martin O’Neil asked him the question who do you want to play for? When he said Rangers, O’Neil just asked him “Well what are you doing here then” He hardly divides Glasgow like no one before, this is an exaggeration

  10. Eddie Hart

    16 June, 2012 at 15:37

    As a life long Celtic fan i feel a couple of things need to be cleared up here, firstly this whole “i just said no” rubbish. Celtic did enquier about his availability and left it at that as they thaught (rightly in my mind) that he was not worth the moey he was asking. the day efore he signed for the now defunct rangers even the media was full of the story of how eltic had DROPPED all interest in novo but still then went with th lies the nest day that he some how snubbed us. its a joke perpetuated by novo to endear him to the old rangers “loyal”

    secondly, novo has not spit anything from the Celtic point of view, he hardly even registere on the radar never mind become a socalled “hate figue”

    The the media hype and novo created myth about this little guy makes him out as som sort of contrivercial figure up there with judas (mo jo), now he is a hate figure at Celtic. Among Celtic fans no one cares about novo, a few hated him but that was for his lies and arrogance and nothing to do with any snub or even anything he di as a player against us

  11. M A S C

    16 June, 2012 at 15:37

    What nonsense.

    “Despised for turning them down in favour of their bitter rivals despite being Catholic”

    Errr, no. Disliked for being quite an obnoxious character and lout. A cursory glance at his twitter account or a google search would indicate this. His pandering to the lower elements of the Rangers support or more significantly, his catalogue of incidents-indecent exposure in public, scrapping with Rangers fans in Greenock, fighting when on tour in Romania, amongst others

    So please, write about Mr Novo’s footballing abilities all you like (he was a half-decent footballer) but please don’t libel Celtic fans with sectarianism.

    An embarrassing and yet illuminating faux-pas by the author.

  12. g

    16 June, 2012 at 15:48

    Please check out your facts before writing, it has already been stated on record by the Celtic board that they never expressed any interest in signing Novo. It was nothing more than an agent talking up his client.

  13. Willow

    16 June, 2012 at 16:05

    the book entitled ‘I said no thanks’ – Rather amusingly, in said book, Novo admits that he was never given the chance to say “no” to anything. He was never offered a contract.

    Sums the wee creep up that even his book title was based on a myth of his own making.

  14. TT

    16 June, 2012 at 18:19

    No disrespect intended to the author (I’m a fan of this site) but this article does have a number of errors.

    Nacho Novo was never given the opportunity to sign for Celtic, he was never given anything to say ‘no thanks’ to.

    He was not disliked by Celtic fans for signing for Rangers and the fact that he is a Catholic is quite irrelevant.

    He was disliked by Celtic fans (and fans of other clubs) for his dirty playing style and penchant for dangerous tackles and controversy (cf. stamp on Stephen Pearson of Celtic and gestures made towards Aberdeen fans for just two examples that spring to mind).

    Novo built his reputation at Rangers by playing up how much he loved Rangers and hated Celtic, not by becoming a vital player for the team, which he was not.

  15. Danny Paton

    16 June, 2012 at 19:34

    Have to say I disagree with the sentiment of your article and I feel you have been led to misunderstand the Celtic supporters position on Novo.

    We couldnt give a monkeys that he chose Rangers over Celtic.

    He was given two options – join Celtic and be a squad player at most, or;
    Join Rangers and be regarded as an important 1st team player.

    I dont blame a foreign national for choosing the arena he will play football in.

    The fact I happen to think he was a very ordinary, at best footballer really leaves me quite satisfied that our benchmark was that bit higher than Rangers was.

    What I find particularly repulsive about this particular individual and I think the Celtic fans will echo my opinion, has been the persistent hand gestures made towards the Celtic fans in every derby game he played in.

    Then there were the subsequent, opposite gestures towards the Rangers fans straight after.

    When you have a support who in the majority have as serious problems and issues with bigotry as any of the eastern europeans, or right wing italian teams – what you are doing is appealing to the lowest common denominator, which is pitiful really.

    That really would sum up the extent of feelings I have towards Novo, he was and is a wee knaff.

    I, and I think I can speak for the majority of Celtic fans really dont spend that much time on average, plain jane, medicore knaffs.

  16. ewanbhoy

    16 June, 2012 at 20:10

    thank you.

  17. stevieboy

    16 June, 2012 at 20:30

    Sorry to hear this disregard to a player who took wadge cuts to stay with us,,, no he wasn’t the best player in the world but a player that played for the shirt,,, he scored some great goals and his flair was magical at times, It saddens me to see the amount of celtic fans relishing the of what’s happened at Rangers,, but if we truely are dead then we take braggin rights to our graves,,, we won more games against you than you did us,, therefore Rangers were indeed Simply the best!

    • ewanbhoy

      16 June, 2012 at 21:08

      im sorry but when were u ever champions of europe ? Never, unlike us. And when u r stripped of your cheated titles u will find that Celtic were simply the best and honest team and we shall live forever.

  18. Davie

    16 June, 2012 at 20:51

    As the posts show hatred and bitterness from the green quarter of the city , nachos record speaks for itself , would always pop up with a goal against celtic , never gave their defence a minute 100% effort everytime he pulled on that famous jersey , thats why hea loved by us and hated by celtic fans , really got to applaud nacho the sick taunts he used to recieve and the physical abuse from celtic fans was disgusting ! You came to rangers because its the top team in scotland and to be a champion and that you did , also a cheeky wee treble aswell ! Theyres only 1 nachonovo watp thank you for the memorys !!!!!

    • ewanbhoy

      16 June, 2012 at 21:14

      lol. is that the best u can come up with.
      hold onto those memories because thats all u have left.

    • dannyh

      16 June, 2012 at 23:53

      is hea a Spanish word?

      “You came to rangers because its the top team in scotland”

      Rangers now defunct,

  19. kev

    16 June, 2012 at 21:52

    Novo was on one of those EBT’S i believe so thank you Nacho for contributing to the eventual downfall of Rangers.

  20. greenwienvy bhoy

    16 June, 2012 at 23:26

    I cannot understand the abuse Novo is getting.
    He was part of a successful team who usually tanked our arses

    • KevinBarry

      17 June, 2012 at 09:35

      shut up u ya bam pot

      • In the greenhouse

        17 June, 2012 at 11:21

        Sorry I upset you KevinBarry I forgot the primary schools are out at weekends

  21. Tino

    16 June, 2012 at 23:31

    Rangers paid this rotten player a ridicuous sum of money for his very modest talent. Because of this and similar contracts paid to playes of the same or even lowe qualty this is why they are now dead. Celtic by the way made no attempt whatsoever to sign him.

  22. In the greenhouse

    17 June, 2012 at 00:29

    I agree with greenwienvy bhoy he tanked our arses everytime, get over him, we were second best.

  23. Truth

    17 June, 2012 at 09:59

    Novo was a play with no “dingnity” a little snidey thug on and off the park. He was well suited to RangersRIP

  24. Raab

    17 June, 2012 at 11:59

    Check how wound up he still gets your lot. Ahaha!

  25. JIM TORBETT

    18 June, 2012 at 01:43

    Funny how many of the manky mob post on Gers articles you’s really are obsessed. Always chasing us!! Also cheated titles? Nothing has been proved. So we’re innocent till proven guilty!!!!

    • Hector Tacksman

      18 June, 2012 at 14:42

      I wish (the) people would get this right. The First Tier Tribunal (or Big Tax Case) was Rangers (the dead club not the zombie one) appeal against being found guilty over the EBTs, the actual result of the FTT is irrelevant due to the fact that it is the side contracts not being lodged with the SFA that should under the SFA’s rules mean all Rangers games where these incorrectly registered players played having the result changed to a 3-0 defeat. The earliest instance of one of these players appearing in the team was Nerlinger which shows how many trophies were dubiously won.

      • JIM TORBETT

        18 June, 2012 at 15:59

        Na EBT wasn’t a dual contract it was a loan system until proven other wise!!

        • Hector Tacksman

          18 June, 2012 at 16:09

          When can we expect these ‘loans’ to be paid back?

          Besides that is now irrelevant as the SFA have said there is a case to answer. Looks like the old club will have titles stripped and other ‘punishments’ which cannot be applied to the new club.

          • JIM TORBETT

            19 June, 2012 at 13:36

            As I said nothing has been proved. So we can’t really comment on speculation. I remember you paid players with image rights. The same image rights that HMRC settled out of court with Man Utd and Chelsea. Your time will come. I would rather die with our history than live with yours!

          • Danny Paton

            19 June, 2012 at 19:56

            Cheerio then Jim, because one IS at deaths door and one WILL live on and prosper.

  26. JIM TORBETT

    20 June, 2012 at 01:40

    Celtic had a EBT scheme set up as well. So you’s aren’t whiter than white. Your club has a disgraceful history. Jim torbett included!!!!!!!! Haha

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