ANGEL Rangel has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 38, a decision which was made on the back of an unexpected conversation with his children.
Rangel spent the final two years of his career with QPR, getting injured in what proved to be his last game at Luton Town in July last year.
Since then, the Spaniard has been a regular at the R’s training ground working on his rehabilitation – with the intention of returning for at least another year of professional football.
However, with his recovery achieved, Rangel’s plans changed during the recent international break.
“The decision was actually made pretty quickly,” Rangel told www.qpr.co.uk.
“My intentions were to recover from the Achilles rupture which I did, and then to train with QPR to prove to myself and others that I could play for another year.
“But then the international break came around and I spent five days at home with the family, and my littles ones were telling me they were missing me so much.
“I have been at QPR for three years, so that is three years away from the family and that is a big part of their lives that I am missing for.
“That really broke my heart, it really broke my heart – and it made the decision easy for me. That was it. It took a day, it was a game-changing day.”
Rangel, who has three children aged nine, ten and 17, added: “Quality time with the family is more important than anything else and that is what made me come to the decision so quickly.
“I told the family straight away, and my wife was super happy. For me, it was a mixture of sadness of course but also relief.
“Sadness because I thought I would play for longer but 38 is still very good - and relief because the weight off your shoulders is massive.
“Yes, there were tears. And there still are now. But it is one of those things. They are tears of relief too because you are always putting pressure on yourself to be your best. It is a happy decision.
“My family was 100% the over-riding factor for me.
“I have been fortunate that my kids have seen me playing in the Swansea shirt and then the QPR shirt.
“But at the same time, when you play football you are playing away from them and you miss things – whether it is one of their birthday parties, which I have, or things like that. Those are things that you cannot get back.
“All these thoughts were going around in my head in a matter of hours, and then I decided, ‘That’s enough now.’”
Rangel acknowledges he could have had an extra season of game time had he not picked up what proved to be a career-ending injury at Kenilworth Road.
Out of contract in the summer, Rangel came out of lockdown for the final nine matches of the 2019/20 season.
So, does he have any regrets about making himself available for those fixtures?
Rangel shakes his head.
“The gaffer came to me and he said he would understand if I didn’t want to play in the final matches as I was out of contract but I said to him, ‘I am here to play games, if not I would retire.’
“That is my nature – I am competitive and I want to play.
“Unfortunately things like that happen in football. I snapped my Achilles and that was my career over but I never regret any decision I make.”
Rangel made 415 appearances in English football, scoring 12 goals and featuring in League One, the Championship and the Premier League, enjoying seven seasons in the top flight, not to mention League Cup success in 2013.
Not a bad achievement for someone who didn’t turn professional until he was 24!
“For me, it is not about what I have achieved, it is about how I have achieved it,” he said.
“Coming from Spain as a semi-professional footballer and signing my first professional contract as a 24-year-old in League One with Swansea, and then in four years getting promotion to the Premier League, was special.
“Playing in the Premier League can be seen as the prize, but not for me – I think of the achievement from the four years of working to get there. That is what makes me proud.
“And having my family that have been there with me throughout – my wife, kids, mum and dad. That is something that is so special to me.”
Rangel devoted a lot of his time to community work while with QPR.
Rangel made 41 appearances for QPR across two seasons, and he reflects on his time in W12 with huge fondness.
“I have loved it,” he said.
“When you leave a place after so long, you come here as a 35-year-old and think about how you will be received.
“But as soon as I walked into the training ground, everyone was so warm – the players, the coaches, the people in the offices, it was so easy to settle in.
“The people here have always been fantastic and that helped me to settle in quickly.
“I was told London is a cold place but as soon as I came to QPR I could sense such a family vibe. West London is fantastic, a great part of the world. I have enjoyed every single minute of it.
“I hope the fans could see I gave everything for the club, for the shirt and I tried to show I was a good professional.
“I always gave my best and tried to make players around me better, on and off the pitch.”
Rangel says the connection with the supporters is something that has been important to him throughout his career, explaining: “The relationship with the fans is part of the game for me.
“When you play for a club you need to show the fans love and respect. It’s not just about kicking a ball and earning money. There is more to it.
“We are very fortunate to do what we love so you need to appreciate that and give back.
“What is the point in playing football if the fans and you don’t have that relationship?
“It doesn’t matter if you are playing in the Premier League or the lower league, you have to be the same. Luckily for me, the QPR fans and Swansea fans saw that commitment from me.
“And when you retire, that is what they remember.”
Rangel also devoted much of his spare time to community work, a trait which began in Wales and continued in W12.
“I did that at Swansea, trying to help those in need, and I guess you carry that reputation with you,” he said.
“Andy Evans from QPR in the Community Trust deserves credit because he got in contact with me when I joined and I told him that anything he wanted me to do, I would do.
“It’s great for the club and it is great for everyone involved – at the end of the day it might be two hours out of my life but it can change the lives of so many.”
So, what’s next?
“I still don’t know but I think it has to be something in football because this is something I have done all my life,” he said.
“I like to think football has given me so much on and off the pitch, and I want to give back both on and off the pitch.
“I will spend a little bit of time with the family, reflect on what is best for them and me, and at the same time educate myself in how to coach and how to create your own style of football.”
Rangel also had a parting message for the Rangers fans.
“I hope you have seen that I gave everything for the shirt and I want to say a big thank you for your support,” he said.
“I could sense from day one that there was a connection there. I am an R and I always will be an R.
“I hope the club will go back to the Premier League one day because I feel we are past the tough times and we can see things are on the up.”
Best of luck, Angel!
I was told London is a cold place but as soon as I came to QPR I could sense such a family vibe.