Goal.com World Player Of The Week: Ryan Nelsen - New Zealand And Blackburn Rovers

Join Goal.com in saluting another global player worthy of recognition...
Welcome to Goal.com's regular feature: Goal.com World Player of the Week. Each week our worldwide team of editors will put forward a selected candidate, as chosen by Goal.com International, who deserves recognition for achieving something special that matchday. It won't necessarily be the best player in the world - at least not usually - but whoever we nominate will have done something amazing. It might be for a particularly awesome performance or for something praiseworthy off the pitch - either way, the person in question deserves special attention...

Goal.com World Player of the Week #57: Ryan Nelsen
Club: Blackburn Rovers
Country: New Zealand
Age: 32
Role: Defender
Castrol Ranking: 356
Achievement: Inspiring his side to two draws and giving the All Whites a shot at last 16 qualification

The All Whites of New Zealand have had to stand in the formidable shadow of the nation's rugby union side, the All Blacks, and the national cricket team for a long time, but June 20, 2010 may well serve as a red letter day for the round-ball game in the land of the Kiwi.

For that is the day that the football team gained a second-ever World Cup point against the reigning World Cup holders, Italy.

Earlier in the week the All Whites had mustered a last minute draw against Slovakia in a now wide-open Group F; it means that, despite the incredible odds, New Zealand are in with a realistic shot of a knockout spot at World Cup 2010.

And to have made it this far, with only two goals conceded, much of the acclaim goes to the team's captain and leader, Ryan Nelsen. The central defender with a degree in political science has adequately co-ordinated the backline of his side and has been close to heroic at times in South Africa.

The Blackburn Rovers stopper was impeccable in keeping out the world champions on Sunday, putting his body on the line time and again to repel the Italians.

After a monumental performance, he told FIFA.com: "It perhaps wasn't the game of the century in terms of a spectacle, but we showed an enormous amount of hunger and determination.

"It leaves me speechless when I think about what we've accomplished thanks to everyone's dedication to the team as a whole. We've given ourselves a chance of reaching the next round and that's an exciting challenge.

"All we can do now is give everything to seize that chance in the last match."

Congratulations to Ryan, Goal.com's 57th World Player of the Week!

Honourable Mentions:

Gonzalo Higuain - Argentina & Real Madrid

A World Cup hat-trick for the Real Madrid forward deserves praise, even if he did not have to work too hard for it. Nonetheless, a confidence boosting goalscoring display that even earned a little kiss from Maradona.

Dennis Rommedahl - Denmark & Ajax

A truly standout performance from the jet-heeled winger against Cameroon put the Danes in with a great chance of qualification alongside the Dutch. He made one and scored one in the 2-1 win.

Elano - Brazil & Galatasaray

Dunga's pragmatism might present itself a shift away from Brazil's usual samba style but there can be no denying that the coach is getting the best from Elano. The midfielder has chipped in with two goals in two matches for the South Americans.

Leave your notes of congratulations for Ryan below, or discuss who else deserves a place in the sun this week...