Formerly of Crystal Palace and Southampton, he finished his youth formation at Newcastle United, where he made his professional debut and was part of their team which won the Football League Championship in 2009–10. Later on in his spell at St James's Park, he was loaned to Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday. He played international football for England U19.
After leaving Newcastle by mutual consent in 2013, he went on to play for Swindon Town and Blackpool in The Football League, with his spells at both clubs being hindered by disciplinary issues including multiple absences from training. Ranger, who was incarcerated for involvement in armed robbery as a teenager, served a prison sentence for fraud in 2017.
Born in Wood Green in North London, Ranger attended Alexandra Park School. He began his football career at Crystal Palace Football Academy and was at their development centre from a young age. He was with the Protec Football Development School for a few weeks before being scouted by Southampton. His career was almost over before it began, as whilst playing for the club he was sentenced to 11 weeks in a Young Offender's Institute for his part in an armed street robbery in Muswell Hill committed before signing for the club. He returned to Southampton after completing his sentence, but was eventually released as a player with a bad reputation. He was offered terms by Swindon Town after a successful trial before Newcastle signed him.
In July 2008, director of football at Newcastle, Dennis Wise, brought Ranger to Newcastle United. Ranger made his academy debut against Leicester City on 23 August 2008 and made his debut for the reserve team against Sunderland at St James' Park on 1 September 2008. He impressed hugely in these levels, finishing with 15 goals for the Under-18s and seven for the reserves in his first season on Tyneside. That resulted in his winning the "Wor Jackie Milburn Trophy" in 2009. He was subsequently rewarded by then-manager Alan Shearer with a new and improved three-and-a-half year contract.
Ranger's Newcastle debut came as an added-time substitute for Shola Ameobi against West Bromwich Albion in the Championship on 8 August 2009. He made his first senior start against Leicester City on 31 August, where he won the man of the match award; he played just over 84 minutes before been substituted and received a standing ovation from fans. He scored his first senior goal for the club in a 2–0 win over Coventry City on 9 December, after coming on as a substitute for Peter Løvenkrands. Ranger scored the second of his two league goals that season in a 2–0 home win against Crystal Palace on 27 January 2010, as Newcastle ended the season as champions and were promoted to the Premier League.
After appearing as an unused substitute in the first two Premier League games for Newcastle, had starts in the Football League Cup wins over Accrington Stanley and Chelsea. He scored the first equalising goal in the game at Stamford Bridge on 22 September 2010, appearing in a right-wing berth, as Newcastle went on to triumph 4–3. He made his Premier League debut on 16 October, coming off the bench in the 89th minute in a 2–2 draw against Wigan Athletic. He made a host of substitute appearances for Newcastle after that, notably in the 1–0 away win to Arsenal, when he turned past Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny and was through on goal before the latter tugged him down and received a red card. Ranger signed a new 5 1⁄2-year contract on 3 December 2010, keeping him at the club until 2016. He also started several games after, for a while, being the club's only fit striker after the sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool and injuries to Shola Ameobi and Leon Best.
On 21 November 2011, having failed to appear for Newcastle in the season up to that date, Ranger signed on loan for Championship club Barnsley until 14 January 2012. In his fifth game for Barnsley, a 1–0 away defeat to West Ham United on 17 December 2011, Ranger injured his foot. His loan was cut short and he returned to Newcastle. On 22 March 2012, he joined Sheffield Wednesday in League One on loan until the end of the 2011–12 season.
On 19 January 2013, Ranger criticised the Newcastle fans on Twitter for booing the team off after a 2–1 home loss to fellow strugglers Reading. He left Newcastle by mutual consent on 1 March 2013.
Ranger joined Swindon Town of League One on a one-year deal, with the option of a second, on 16 August 2013. He was signed despite his ongoing rape case.
Ranger scored his first goal for Swindon on 27 August against Queens Park Rangers in the League Cup and his first league goal in the following game four days later, a 5–0 home win against Crewe Alexandra. He was a regular in the side until early November, scoring four more goals.
On 14 November he failed to report to the club for training after being given a period of leave. He played one more game before again failing to turn up at the club. Manager Mark Cooper decided Ranger would not appear until he showed "respect for the team". In December Cooper said he would offload Ranger if he failed to train and because of his disciplinary record. On 3 January 2014, Swindon Town chairman Lee Power confirmed in a press conference that the club would be meeting with Ranger and his management in the following days to confirm his sacking due to his disrespect shown towards the club through constant absence during training. Power said "I'm the chairman of the club and I've got to do what's best for the club. Unfortunately, what's best for the club is having to sit down with Nile and talk about parting ways. While this is ongoing Nile is not training with the squad." He was soon recalled to the squad, scoring in a 2–1 win against Peterborough United on 11 January. He continued to play throughout January and early February, scoring three more goals. On 14 February he suffered a hamstring tear in a game against Colchester United, his last game for Swindon.
He had played 28 games in all competitions, scoring ten goals. His time with the club had been beset with disciplinary problems and issues with his private life and on 2 May 2014, Ranger and Swindon Town mutually agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect.
On 16 August 2014 Ranger signed for Blackpool of the Championship on a one-year deal. He scored against Millwall on 30 August and against Leeds United on 8 November, both in defeats. After two more league appearances, he went AWOL after being left out of the squad to face Birmingham City in early December. He claimed he had to return to London due to "family issues". In late January 2015, Blackpool began to fine the striker for each day he was absent. In May 2015 Blackpool released 17 players following their relegation. They took up an option to extend Ranger's contract for another year. Despite saying he would return to the club for pre-season training in preparation for the 2015–16 season, he failed to do so until 28 July, by which point Blackpool had played four friendlies.
I have seen two of my good friends pass away. Whilst overcoming this it has made me realise life is really short and I have really been taking things for granted. I would like to use this opportunity to thank Southampton, Newcastle, Swindon and Blackpool for giving me the chance to experience the dream of being a professional footballer. To add to this I would like to apologise to everyone at these clubs including management, players, staff and fans. I should have given more and been a better role model. I would also like to add I am sorry to my current team-mates at Blackpool for being missing for a long period of time and not attending pre-season and putting in the hard work during this time. Truth be told I'm just a young boy who has been living the dream and playing a game which I do love and miss deeply, and hope that one day I will be able to get back on a pitch and play because life is really too short.
On 2 February 2016, Blackpool announced that Ranger had left the club.
On 3 August 2016, Southend United announced that they had signed Ranger on a one-year contract. He made his debut 13 days later in a 3–0 win at Sheffield United, his first professional match since November 2014, but was substituted with injury halfway through the first half. On 12 November, Ranger scored his first goals for the Shrimpers, one in each half of a 4–1 win over Bury at Gigg Lane. On 1 December Ranger signed a new contract with Southend, committing him to the club until 2020.
Ranger made his debut for the England U19 team on 25 March 2009 against the Czech Republic U19s. He got his first goal for the Under-19s in his second match, against Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a headed effort. He helped his team to the final of the UEFA U-19 Championship but his team eventually lost the final to host nation Ukraine 2–0 in Donetsk.
In 2007, at the age of 15, he was sentenced to 11 weeks in a Young Offenders Institute after being convicted of participating in street robbery in Muswell Hill, London.
In May 2011 Ranger was questioned by Newcastle after posing with a replica gun in a photograph.
On 27 August 2011 he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a man in Newcastle city centre, leaving the victim unconscious in the street. Ranger was subsequently dropped to Newcastle United's reserve team. He was found not guilty of the charge in October 2012.
In October 2011 he was charged with being drunk and disorderly in Newcastle's Cathedral Square. The charge came only days after Ranger had been reinstated to Newcastle United's first-team training after a three-month exile in the club's reserves.
In March 2012, he was fined by The FA for making homophobic comments on social networking website Twitter.
In the early hours of 23 September 2012, police were called to a house in Enfield, north London after reports of a disturbance. The front door of the property was badly damaged and Ranger was arrested at the scene and later charged with criminal damage. The charge against Ranger was dropped that November after the court accepted his explanation that he had damaged the door after fearing his girlfriend was being kidnapped.
On 25 January 2013, Ranger was arrested on suspicion of rape in a Newcastle hotel room. In connection with the same alleged offence, Ranger was charged with rape on 8 July 2013. On 4 March 2014 he was cleared of the charge at Newcastle Crown Court.
On 14 March 2013, Ranger was charged with common assault after an incident in Newcastle city centre.
On 23 March 2014, Ranger was arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage to a taxi in Liverpool. He later pleaded guilty to criminal damage and was fined £1,000 and was ordered to pay compensation to the taxi driver for breaking a window. Ranger said that he was enraged by being called a rapist by the driver.
On 28 April 2014 Ranger was charged with criminal damage after an incident at a block of flats in Swindon on 13 April. He was later fined for damage to the door of his flat in relation to this incident which was captured on CCTV, in an incident where he additionally appeared to strike his female companion three times on the face.
In May 2014, Ranger was found not guilty of being drunk in charge of his vehicle, after being found asleep in the driver's seat of his car on the M4 motorway.
In December 2016, Ranger was charged with conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, in respect of offences alleged to have been committed in February 2015. In January 2017, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud at Wood Green Crown Court. On 23 May 2017, he was sentenced to eight months in prison. On 11 August 2017, he was released after 10 weeks of his sentence due to "his consistently excellent custodial behaviour", remaining under curfew for the next five weeks.As of match played 16 September 2017
Newcastle UnitedFootball League Championship: 2009–10