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Ryan Nelsen Player Profile

Ryan Nelsen Player Profile
Ryan Nelsen
Date of Birth:Oct 18, 1977 (Age 39)
Place of Birth:Christchurch
Nationality: New Zealand
Height:183 cm.
Weight:90 Kg.
Squad Number:6
National Team Page: New Zealand U-23
EPL: Ryan Nelsen, Blackburn Rovers - Wigan Athletic (PA)
Arguably New Zealand’s most important and well-known footballer at present, Ryan Nelsen will be spearheading the Kiwis from the back at the World Cup this summer.

A key contributor to the All Whites setup, he is without-a-doubt the side’s calming influence given his pedigree at club level, which not only is unrivalled from any member from the All Whites stable but has also seen him gain plaudits throughout North America and England, where he is currently plying his trade with Sam Allardyce’s Blackburn Rovers.

His key qualities include: an adept anticipation from set pieces and a superb reading of the game from the back, which should serve a huge boost to the Kiwis, who have been dubbed one of the upcoming tournament’s ‘lesser’ threats.

Nelsen embarked on an unorthodox route towards professional football, opting to further his development in the United States where he studied at Stanford University which culminated in a political science degree. He has struck solid defensive partnerships at Ewood Park. Recently, he has struck up a superb understanding with the uncompromising Christopher Samba.

His spell at DC United saw him attain several honours including being named in the league’s best XI in successive seasons – 2003 and 2004.

Following several solid seasons in the MLS, a move to England’s Premier League ensued, in the form of a switch to the Rovers. And it wasn’t long until he was appointed the club’s captain, a role of which he still holds today. As a result, all expectations will be placed on Nelsen’s shoulders given his reputation in England as a solid and reliable centre-back.

His biggest concern is a re-occurring knee injury that kept him out of a handful of Premier League fixtures early in 2010 and almost threatened to end his World Cup dream. Injuries, indeed, have coloured the defender’s tenure with the Premier League side, having spent a considerable amount of time on the sidelines with foot and hamstring injuries in 2006. However, the defender is largely expected to return to full-fitness in time for the World Cup preparations.

If anyone believes New Zealand can spring a surprise or two at South Africa, it is Nelsen. The centre-back has declared his team’s intentions of shaking up Group F, which contains Paraguay, Slovakia and reigning world champions Italy. And while he admits the tiny pacific nation could leave the tournament with three losses against their name, the skipper remains quietly confident they can spring a surprise in front of the world’s watchful eyes.