Pictures of Arnold Peralta in celebratory mood as a Rangers player, and with his wife Vanessa in honeymoon in Paris, have accompanied the shocking news of his fatal shooting in his Honduran homeland on Thursday. They give the impression of a cheery, warm individual.
That is the Peralta remembered yesterday by Ricky Foster. The Ross County defender’s second spell at Ibrox largely dovetailed with Peralta’s time at Ibrox. They signed within weeks of one another in the summer of 2013, while the Honduran moved back to his native country with the nation’s most successful club Olimpia in the capital, Tegucigalpa, in January 2015 came towards the end of Foster’s stay in Glasgow.
“It’s is so horrendous. I just couldn’t take the news in when I heard. What a waste,” Forster said of Peralta’s murder. “Arnie didn’t speak a lot of English but he was quite a funny guy. Bilel Mohsni spoke Spanish so he became his unofficial interpreter and they would be regularly laughing and joking. The one thing with Arnie was, even when it wasn’t going great for him, he came into training and worked hard every day, always going about his business the right way.”
The 26-year-old Peralta had recently become a father for the first time, and was said to have been in the car park of a shopping mall in his home city of La Ceiba where he was shot 18 times after a trip to buy clothes for his daughter Camilla. The devastation left behind by such a numbing killing was to the fore in a heartfelt tribute by Kris Boyd for Peralta, with whom he linked up at Ibrox for the first half of the 2013-14 season.
Rangers will commemorate Peralta’s passing with a minute’s silence before their Championship encounter at home to Morton this afternoon.
“It’s just tragic,” Boyd said. “I don’t really know the ins and outs of it, so all I can do is pass on my condolences to his family. He was always somebody who would come into training with a smile on his face. He worked hard and did everything to the best of his ability.
“You sometimes hear about illnesses taking people away from their families, but to lose somebody because they’ve been shot will be harder to take. I only knew Arnie for a few months but I knew exactly how he was as a person.
“The biggest tragedy for me is that there is a partner there now who will have to bring up a child by herself.”
In a statement, Rangers acknowledged his contribution in a playing spell that yielded 31 appearances, 25 of these starts, and one goal. “Rangers Football Club is deeply shocked and saddened to hear the tragic news about former player Arnold Peralta. The 26-year-old midfielder, who had an 18-month spell at Ibrox and helped the club win the League 1 title in 2014, was killed in a shooting incident in Honduras (on Thursday night). Our thoughts go out to Arnold’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”
Peralta did not enjoy the most fruitful time in Scotland. He arrived from local club Vida with high expectations, only a year after having performed at Hampden for Honduras against Morocco as Scotland’s national stadium staged a number of games in the 2012 Olympics.
The transfer embargo the Ibrox club were under meant he was not eligible to play until the September. He had been signed as a defensive midfielder to compete with Ian Black, but a good start to the club’s League 1 season by Black meant Peralta was shoe-horned into the side by manager Ally McCoist wide on the right. “Coming to a new country and being played out of position must have been a culture shock to him, but he always gave his best,” Foster said.
Peralta suffered with illness and injury towards the end of his first season and, although he made the Honduran World Cup squad, was not able to take part in the 2014 Brazilian finals. He returned late for the following season after visa issues – having previously stated he would have liked to move to another new country that summer – and, following his part in the 3-1 home defeat by Hibernian in late September that exposed the weakness of Rangers’ Championship challenge, never appeared again.
Among the many other tributes, current Rangers striker Nicky Clark posted a picture of himself hugging Peralta on Twitter as well as the following message: “Horrible news this morning, rip Arnie.” One-time Ibrox defender Chris Hegarty, who now plays for Linfield, added: “The world is mad. RIP Arnie.” Andy Little, another former Rangers forward, said: “RIP Arnie. Shocking news to wake up to and puts many other things in life into perspective. Thoughts are with his family. #RangersFamily.”