Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Celtic fans catalogue of death threats against footballer and his baby

Extracts from Rangers' Spanish football player Nacho Novo's autobiography.

"NET neds, RIP slogans, death threats, car vandalism - then Celtic 'fans' put my ADDRESS on the internet.
I learned of it in an early evening call from a pal and was sent into a fury.

Who? Where? Why? B*******! What the... ?

So many thoughts started to go through my mind. What's going to happen now? Will anyone try anything? They better not come near my family.

A Celtic 'fans' forum had posted my full home address and my car registration number. They were urging people to come and pay me and my family 'a visit'.

It's common knowledge when Rangers play all their away games. What if someone came to the house when I was away? I would not have my family under threat.

That night, the club arranged for plainclothes security guys to sit in a car outside my house.

I was advised that, for my family's safety, and mine, they'd be there around the clock for two weeks. I couldn't believe it had come to this. But I had no option. Now I was always under the impression that everything you did online was traceable.

Here we were with conclusive proof of who posted my full home address and my car registration number. Surely an open-and-shut case?

Well, if anyone was ever arrested over the incident then someone forgot to tell me. The whole internet saga led to a new song.

It's not quite as sinister as wanting me to die in my sleep from a bullet from the IRA, which was the other one I used to hear being sung at me during Old Firm games.

This new song proclaimed that the Celtic support 'know where you stay Nacho Novo'. And they did. Thanks to some anonymous internet coward. Every time I play at Celtic there's an individual who waits at the side of the bus and abuses me in Spanish when we walk off to go into the stadium - it's as if he goes out of his way to try to offend me.

The reality is I am embarrassed for him, he's so driven by hate that he queues up simply to abuse me. According to what he shouts at me, because I am Spanish that must make me a Catholic and as a Catholic I should never have signed for Rangers.

I've disgraced my religion by choosing the blue half of Glasgow. The only problem I have with all this is I'm NOT a Catholic - in fact I'm not very religious at all. That doesn't seem to matter to him though.Another phone call back in January sounded all too familiar.

'Have you seen what they've done on the internet this time? They've set up a Facebook page looking for a million people to say they hate you.'

I started to laugh, it's all so juvenile and sad.

'That's not all Nacho. They've said some things, some things about you and Javier'. I lost the plot - Javier, my baby son, was only in this world a matter of days and there was no need to bring him into it.

I tried to calm myself down. However, it was in the wake of the petrol attack on DaMarcus Beasley's car and some internet hardman had decided he wanted my car registration number so he could burn my new baby son and me alive.

THE envelope that lay on the doormat in my fiancee's Inverkip flat delivered the chilling threat.

There was no name on the front but there was no doubt who it was aimed at.

The scrawled writing said: "If you play against Celtic on Sunday, you will get ******g done in. We'll kill you, you Rangers b******."

I read it a couple of times before it sank in. A crucial Old Firm clash at Parkhead in February 2005 was looming and the off-field problems I'd encountered since signing for Rangers had escalated to a whole new level.

There had been some unsavoury incidents but Donna, my fiancee, and I had tried not to let it bother us. They were morons, scum, I would say to her.

But this was a DEATH THREAT. I didn't know what to do.

My fear was that if the police had come to see me and had a look at the letter - and it had then leaked to the press which would have been extremely likely - there would be a huge circus before the game. That was the last thing I wanted.

Donna and I decided to keep it between us. Looking back, maybe that wasn't the right call. But would they have found the person responsible? Highly unlikely.

I was a shaken by the whole thing, concerned for Donna and the two boys, Dylan and Ross, as she would be in the flat herself over the next few days.

I felt the best option would be to ignore it, answer these scumbags ON the pitch. I was determined to go out and show them that I would not be intimidated by anyone or anything.

I played and scored the second goal as we won 2-0.

There have been some really disturbing things I've had to endure as a Rangers player in Glasgow.

Forget the car trashings and numerous tyre-slashings - I was attacked in the street in broad daylight in the middle of Glasgow out shopping with my family!

We didn't bother too much with reporting a catalogue of car vandalism to the police. Maybe we should have, things were about to take a sinister turn.

I'd just scored my first goal against Celtic in a 2-0 win at Ibrox. I never go out after Old Firm matches into the city and just went back to Donna's flat.

The next day we just lounged around and watched some DVDs.

I was very tired and slept a lot as I always do after games.

On the Sunday night we went out to get a takeaway. Both of us jumped into the car and as we drove out the lights shone on the huge fence around the building.

'Novo RIP' had been painted in huge, white letters.

Donna and I still laugh about this as my English wasn't the greatest. As I stared at the graffiti I kept saying: "Novo rip, Novo rip". She sighed: "Nacho, that means Rest In Peace. It's what they say when people die!"

I was going off my head. I couldn't believe that someone would do such a thing, daub such a sickening message outside where your fiancee lived.

We reported it to the police. Rangers were also very concerned and the club's security people talked to the police to air their concerns about the amount of things that were going on without anyone ever being caught.

That pleased me, but didn't fully put my mind at rest. There was always a lingering fear things could start up again. They did.

Myself, Dylan, Ross, Donna and her aunt Maureen had been enjoying a day's shopping.

Out of nowhere this guy ran alongside me and the next thing - bang - he turned, looked at me square-on and punched me right on the side of the face.

I was dazed. Donna hadn't seen what had happened as it was over so quickly but Maureen was shouting: "That guy just punched Nacho."

The guy turned and started running. He had been drinking in a pub on the corner. I flipped. I took off after him and caught up quickly.

I tripped him up. I was in a rage. How dare he punch me for no reason in front of my family?

I started laying in to him as he scrambled about on the ground. He was outside the door of the pub now and Donna, the kids and Maureen soon arrived and tried to haul me away.

Some of the guys in the pub emerged at the door, as did the manager.

I stopped hitting the guy and he was held up in the doorway of the pub. I was going mad, shouting and bawling at him. My face was stinging. He had smacked me big-time.

His pal said to Donna when she asked what the hell he was playing at: "We were sitting having a pint. He was just looking out the window and he said 'Hold on, I'll be back in a minute' before he put his pint down.

"The next thing he ran out the door. He's a Celtic fan. He doesn't like Novo."

This guy hated me so much that he would leave his friends while having a quiet drink, run outside a bar and sneak up on a footballer and punch him because he didn't like him. I was livid.

I just shook my head and walked away. He muttered: "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it."

But he'd meant it alright."


Link to the monstrous Facebook page mentioned above set up and supported by Celtic fans.

Craigmillar/Gilmerton Celtic Supporters Club sing Celtic Park anthem about Nacho Novo being murdered "by a bullet from the IRA"

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