New Watford signing Mathias Ranegie has turned his life around after drug-taking halted his promising career

The form of Mathias Ranegie (left) at Malmo earned him a move to the Serie A in 2012. Picture: Action Images

The form of Mathias Ranegie (left) at Malmo earned him a move to the Serie A in 2012. Picture: Action Images

First published in Sport Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy Group Sports Editor

Mathias Ranegie has plied his trade in one of Europe’s biggest leagues in the last 18 months but just over a decade ago his future looked perilously bleak as he recovered from a drug habit which resulted in him stealing phones to pay for it.

Ranegie has previously admitted to taking cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy and cannabis on a regular basis in his mid to late teens.

Being sent to Paris to live with his father for two years still didn’t stop the disenchanted youngster’s alcohol abuse and drug use but then his life changed when he started to attend a Christian rehabilitation centre.

Ranegie has turned his life around and whilst he no longer wants to talk about the problems, a few years ago he conducted a number of honest interviews in his native Sweden aimed at inspiring youngsters who are suffering the same pitfalls.

It is a past which he wants to forget and hopes his performances on the pitch will mean others will too. But his story is one which could provide inspiration to other disillusioned youngsters whose lives are heading in the wrong direction.

The giant striker grew up in the Majorna region of Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, with his mother and brother, with his dad reportedly moving back to France when Ranegie was five.

Ranegie, who at 6ft 5in was always bigger than most, was a talented footballer as a child and attracted interest from several clubs in his mid teens.

But he is quoted as saying his focus was more on partying and girls and, after falling in with the wrong crowd, he reportedly started to smoke cannabis regularly as a 15-year-old, which led to him taking cocaine, amphetamines and ecstasy.

Ranegie abused drugs regularly around the ages of 15 and 16 – as many of his friends were addicts – according to the interviews he held with Swedish newspapers Dagen and Expressen.

Eventually his parents sent him to Paris to live with his father at the age of 17 and he reportedly stopped taking most of the drugs but continued to smoke cannabis and would still drink heavily.

Things hadn’t improved completely when he returned to Sweden after two years in France but his life started to turn around considerably when he began attending a Christian rehabilitation centre called Linneahuset.

Ranegie rebelled at the start; he has been quoted as saying that he initially viewed the beliefs of the Christian workers as “naive” and the eight o’clock starts and bible study did not appeal to him.

He left on several occasions but always returned and he told Dagen that the fact the workers welcomed him back with open arms “inspired confidence” and said they “respected me for who I was”.

Things were going well in the summer of 2004 when he attended a Christian youth festival near Örebro, which was a few hours away from his home town Gothenburg.

But the high number of unknown people reportedly made Ranegie nervous and he wanted to go home before he was encouraged to stay by a friend.

That evening he attended a church service and it was there when, he told Dagen, “perhaps God saw his chance to touch Mathias” – in a moment he reportedly struggles to describe but one which changed his life.

Ranegie spent another six months at Linneahuset before he moved into his own house and started a family with his partner.

It was during his time at the Christian rehab centre when Ranegie fell in love with football again.

After a successful season at second division side Lärje-Angereds IF, he was bought by IFK Goteborg before the start of the 2007 campaign.

His new club went on to win the title but Ranegie only made five substitute appearances and was then limited to ten more outings the following campaign, netting one goal.

A brief loan spell at Go Ahead Eagles in Holland, where he scored one goal in five run-outs, was to follow before he was transferred to BK Hacken in 2009.

Ranegie was not prolific in his first season at the club, scoring six goals, but he was able to secure regular football as he appeared 31 times in all competitions.

But 33 goals in 61 appearances during the next two seasons at BK Hacken persuaded Malmo, who were competing in the Europa League at the time, to sign the giant striker.

Ranegie netted 16 times in 31 outings in all competitions which led to Udinese spending a reported £1.7m on the striker in the summer of 2012.

The 29-year-old has made four appearances for Udinese this campaign and played 26 times last season, scoring one goal – although only five of those were starts.

He has has been capped by Sweden three times and scored one goal. He started for his country against England last season, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four goals during the 4-2 win.

Swedish journalist Eric Neva told the Watford Observer: “Mathias is a player that has already come a long way. He had a really rough upbringing, and was suffering in life as a drug user in his late teens. Once straightened out, his talent quickly shone through.

“He was obviously a late bloomer, and had a lot of learning to do, but improved dramatically with every passing season.

“Having outgrown the modest Swedish league, he had a stab at both the national team and Serie A-football, but it pretty much proved a step too far.

“He’s a big and powerful striker that can do the traditional target man-task, but is blessed with decent feet and vision as well.

“He’ll probably never be a player of the highest international bracket, but a club of Watford’s size, traditions and ambitions might just be what he needs to shine.”

Comments (22)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:29am Fri 10 Jan 14

GoldenManc says...

He steals what he wants ....
He steals what he wants .... GoldenManc
  • Score: -27

11:30am Fri 10 Jan 14

GoldenManc says...

Anyone remember the Stevie Palmer song
Anyone remember the Stevie Palmer song GoldenManc
  • Score: 1

11:39am Fri 10 Jan 14

Hampshire hornet says...

He wants to move on and not talk about it - -so we have the story in the local paper quoting him from years ago -- lets just make him feel really welcome...
at least noone will mess with our front 2
He wants to move on and not talk about it - -so we have the story in the local paper quoting him from years ago -- lets just make him feel really welcome... at least noone will mess with our front 2 Hampshire hornet
  • Score: 51

11:39am Fri 10 Jan 14

bristol hornet says...

If he is a Christian, he will get on very well with Anya who is a fellow believer.

Perhaps they can get together and ask for some Divine help to make a late push for the play offs?
If he is a Christian, he will get on very well with Anya who is a fellow believer. Perhaps they can get together and ask for some Divine help to make a late push for the play offs? bristol hornet
  • Score: 34

12:04pm Fri 10 Jan 14

demerit says...

Right, that's it....I'm leaving my mobile at home tomorrow.
Right, that's it....I'm leaving my mobile at home tomorrow. demerit
  • Score: -3

12:15pm Fri 10 Jan 14

JonBoy says...

Yes well done Frank, sure Renegie will love you for this
Yes well done Frank, sure Renegie will love you for this JonBoy
  • Score: 23

12:18pm Fri 10 Jan 14

personal-perspective says...

Am I alone in being a little unhappy about this style of reporting? The guy has cleaned his act up and made progress in his life after a difficult upbringing and in moving to a new country a decade later I think he is entitled to not have his former transgressions highlighted so publicly and in such detail.

There is a story and as supporters we are interested but I do feel the Wobby have gone over the top with this report.
Am I alone in being a little unhappy about this style of reporting? The guy has cleaned his act up and made progress in his life after a difficult upbringing and in moving to a new country a decade later I think he is entitled to not have his former transgressions highlighted so publicly and in such detail. There is a story and as supporters we are interested but I do feel the Wobby have gone over the top with this report. personal-perspective
  • Score: 22

12:19pm Fri 10 Jan 14

ForzaWatford says...

As long as he isn't another Geijo! (12 games no goals for Mallorca by the way)
As long as he isn't another Geijo! (12 games no goals for Mallorca by the way) ForzaWatford
  • Score: 3

12:45pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Hampshire hornet says...

personal-perspective wrote:
Am I alone in being a little unhappy about this style of reporting? The guy has cleaned his act up and made progress in his life after a difficult upbringing and in moving to a new country a decade later I think he is entitled to not have his former transgressions highlighted so publicly and in such detail.

There is a story and as supporters we are interested but I do feel the Wobby have gone over the top with this report.
you are not alone...as per my post
[quote][p][bold]personal-perspective[/bold] wrote: Am I alone in being a little unhappy about this style of reporting? The guy has cleaned his act up and made progress in his life after a difficult upbringing and in moving to a new country a decade later I think he is entitled to not have his former transgressions highlighted so publicly and in such detail. There is a story and as supporters we are interested but I do feel the Wobby have gone over the top with this report.[/p][/quote]you are not alone...as per my post Hampshire hornet
  • Score: 11

12:53pm Fri 10 Jan 14

andyrankin says...

I think they have done the right thing writing this report. It is going to come out anyway. At least this way it isn't sensationalised and we can just move on as quickly as possible.
I don't understand people who think because it is the past it should be a secret.
You have to live with the consequences of your actions, it is part of who you are.
All that said no need to make a big deal about it. Just bang a few goals in and you'll earn the right to have a crappy song sang to you at the vic.
What more incentive can you want than that to stay of the wacky backy
I think they have done the right thing writing this report. It is going to come out anyway. At least this way it isn't sensationalised and we can just move on as quickly as possible. I don't understand people who think because it is the past it should be a secret. You have to live with the consequences of your actions, it is part of who you are. All that said no need to make a big deal about it. Just bang a few goals in and you'll earn the right to have a crappy song sang to you at the vic. What more incentive can you want than that to stay of the wacky backy andyrankin
  • Score: 19

1:04pm Fri 10 Jan 14

WFCinexile says...

I look upon this as a positive story of someone turning their life around. Like others, not so sure the amount of detail in the story is actually necessary to get the point across, it does feel like a bit of mischief-making going on. Then again, it's all on public record.

Mind you, re-hashing the story the day before his potential debut can't exactly be helpful.
I look upon this as a positive story of someone turning their life around. Like others, not so sure the amount of detail in the story is actually necessary to get the point across, it does feel like a bit of mischief-making going on. Then again, it's all on public record. Mind you, re-hashing the story the day before his potential debut can't exactly be helpful. WFCinexile
  • Score: 14

1:09pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Mooneyman says...

"....a few years ago he conducted a number of honest interviews in his native Sweden aimed at inspiring youngsters who are suffering the same pitfalls......"
If the guy has used his experiences, to try to help others overcome their probelms, then fair play to him. There are many people out there who've tried hard drugs. Stupid thing to do and I'm sure they regret it if they've thankfully not become addicted and seen the error of it. Well done to the lad for turning his life around.
I'd rather read a straight story in a newspaper about his past then have it spread by rumour & gossip.
Now lets hope we see him regualarly in a yellow shirt banging the goals in. COYH.
"....a few years ago he conducted a number of honest interviews in his native Sweden aimed at inspiring youngsters who are suffering the same pitfalls......" If the guy has used his experiences, to try to help others overcome their probelms, then fair play to him. There are many people out there who've tried hard drugs. Stupid thing to do and I'm sure they regret it if they've thankfully not become addicted and seen the error of it. Well done to the lad for turning his life around. I'd rather read a straight story in a newspaper about his past then have it spread by rumour & gossip. Now lets hope we see him regualarly in a yellow shirt banging the goals in. COYH. Mooneyman
  • Score: 21

2:23pm Fri 10 Jan 14

inayellowshirt says...

Born again Christian...

6ft 5"..

Gonna like crosses then :)
Born again Christian... 6ft 5".. Gonna like crosses then :) inayellowshirt
  • Score: 22

2:46pm Fri 10 Jan 14

JohnnyBarnes says...

"Needles to say, he had the last laugh"
"Needles to say, he had the last laugh" JohnnyBarnes
  • Score: -8

3:02pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Boosey says...

High possibility he may become a user again if he doesn't score in his first few games then reads the negative comments on here!
High possibility he may become a user again if he doesn't score in his first few games then reads the negative comments on here! Boosey
  • Score: -3

3:47pm Fri 10 Jan 14

WFC FANMAN says...

we have approach a Fulhams Derek Boeting link is here http://www1.skysport
s.com/football/news/
12040/9109624/transf
er-news-watford-inte
rested-in-fulham-mid
fielder-derek-boaten
g
we have approach a Fulhams Derek Boeting link is here http://www1.skysport s.com/football/news/ 12040/9109624/transf er-news-watford-inte rested-in-fulham-mid fielder-derek-boaten g WFC FANMAN
  • Score: 0

3:52pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Hornet Cornet says...

He aint no Marlon..... thankfully
He aint no Marlon..... thankfully Hornet Cornet
  • Score: 2

4:25pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Bush Hornet says...

I don't object to this article at all - it's nice to know a bit more about our players, to be honest. I like the sound of the guy as a person (and he looks like a decent player too). Anyone can sink as low as a thief if they lose hope. They fail to value their own lives so obviously have no respect for others. He's turned it around though and found some meaning to his life. He's a courageous individual who's come through tough trials and is stronger for it. And he could have a good influence on younger players. Personally I welcome him to our club.
I don't object to this article at all - it's nice to know a bit more about our players, to be honest. I like the sound of the guy as a person (and he looks like a decent player too). Anyone can sink as low as a thief if they lose hope. They fail to value their own lives so obviously have no respect for others. He's turned it around though and found some meaning to his life. He's a courageous individual who's come through tough trials and is stronger for it. And he could have a good influence on younger players. Personally I welcome him to our club. Bush Hornet
  • Score: 11

6:22pm Fri 10 Jan 14

1234566789 says...

GoldenManc wrote:
Anyone remember the Stevie Palmer song
Ranegie doesn't have the same rhyming abilities unfortunately
[quote][p][bold]GoldenManc[/bold] wrote: Anyone remember the Stevie Palmer song[/p][/quote]Ranegie doesn't have the same rhyming abilities unfortunately 1234566789
  • Score: 1

10:00pm Fri 10 Jan 14

Drewoneone says...

We now have at least two strikers who have had serious challenges to overcome in their lives and have risen to that challenge. Acknowledging the problems that they have had and overcoming them as well as admitting they have weaknesses can only strengthen them as people. The younger players at the club should learn from them.
We now have at least two strikers who have had serious challenges to overcome in their lives and have risen to that challenge. Acknowledging the problems that they have had and overcoming them as well as admitting they have weaknesses can only strengthen them as people. The younger players at the club should learn from them. Drewoneone
  • Score: 3

10:42pm Fri 10 Jan 14

barnsey11 says...

ForzaWatford wrote:
As long as he isn't another Geijo! (12 games no goals for Mallorca by the way)
He probably is another Geijo, but that's not a bad thing.
[quote][p][bold]ForzaWatford[/bold] wrote: As long as he isn't another Geijo! (12 games no goals for Mallorca by the way)[/p][/quote]He probably is another Geijo, but that's not a bad thing. barnsey11
  • Score: 0

10:41am Sat 11 Jan 14

Essex Hornet says...

Many people have done things in the past that they later come to regret and Ranagie is no different from them. The fact this story has come out now shouldn't cloud our judgement.
We should judge this guy by what he does on the pitch and the way he handles himself when he's representing the club. Whatever has happened in the past is in the past and now is the time for him to look forward with a fresh challenge at Watford. Let us hope the Championship is the right level for him to show his talents and bang in a few goals.
In the past I remember another tall fella called Ross Jenkins (the striker) who couldn't hit a barn door when he first joined us from Crystal Palace and got alot of stick from the terraces. However over time he adapted to our way of playing, scored loads of goals and by the end of his career had become a Watford legend.
I'm not suggesting that Ranegie is going to match the feats of big Ross but let's give him a warm Watford welcome and hope that he can deliver the goods. COYH
Many people have done things in the past that they later come to regret and Ranagie is no different from them. The fact this story has come out now shouldn't cloud our judgement. We should judge this guy by what he does on the pitch and the way he handles himself when he's representing the club. Whatever has happened in the past is in the past and now is the time for him to look forward with a fresh challenge at Watford. Let us hope the Championship is the right level for him to show his talents and bang in a few goals. In the past I remember another tall fella called Ross Jenkins (the striker) who couldn't hit a barn door when he first joined us from Crystal Palace and got alot of stick from the terraces. However over time he adapted to our way of playing, scored loads of goals and by the end of his career had become a Watford legend. I'm not suggesting that Ranegie is going to match the feats of big Ross but let's give him a warm Watford welcome and hope that he can deliver the goods. COYH Essex Hornet
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree