Oceania Football Confederation > News > New Zealand > Nelsen leaves lasting impression

Nelsen leaves lasting impression

In his final match for Queens Park Rangers yesterday the defender was given a standing ovation after helping the club fight for a scoreless draw against defending champions Manchester City.
Despite spending just seven months at Loftus Road Nelsen was treated to a rousing serenade from fans, chanting “there’s only one Ryan Nelsen” in recognition of the 35-year-old’s on-field heroics for QPR, who are battling to avoid relegation.
While the tributes have been flowing thick and fast from Nelsen’s former coaches and colleagues in England, news of the New Zealander’s retirement has also drawn a response from former national teammates and opponents closer to home.
In New Zealand, teammates Chris Wood, Ivan Vicelich and Tommy Smith, as well as All Whites coach Ricki Herbert and international opponents, such as Solomon Islands’ Henry Fa’arodo and New Caledonia’s Olivier Dokunengo, have all spoken about Nelsen’s leadership qualities, the hole he will leave in the national squad and the impact of an outstanding career that will leave a lasting impression on football in the Oceania region.
Chris Wood:
“Obviously it’s a gutting moment to hear about his retirement. He’s been a big part of New Zealand football for so long, he made his debut 14 years ago and it’s tough knowing he’s not going to be there anymore.
“I will definitely miss his leadership the most. Every time he’s on the park and in the squad you know he’s there leading you and in general he’s just a great player to have alongside you. Every game is much easier having his leadership. He’s a great leader on pitch and he makes young players feel good about coming into the team. He has a great understanding of the game and knows the tactics inside out – he will be a really good coach.”
Tommy Smith:
“I was definitely disappointed when I learnt about Ryan’s retirement. He’s a great player with great qualities who has had an amazing career. It’s going to be a big loss for the All Whites. It has been an honour to play with him and he has given me a lot of really good advice.
“He has been a great captain and leader, always available to talk to anyone and everyone. He gave inspirational talks, like those during the World Cup – he is a great leader.”
Ivan Vicelich:
“It is a little bit of a shock – a shock to everyone in the country. The guy is a great player, the best player in New Zealand. We really need to celebrate his career. He’s had a great career, so good on him. We have to respect his decision and wish him good luck. He’ll do well in his new role, just as he did well in his football career.
Ricki Herbert:
“This day was always going to come eventually, it’s a surprise but not entirely unexpected given the announcement that he was going to take up the head coach role at Toronto FC earlier this month.
“While we will really miss him he goes with our best wishes and I’m sure he will be as successful in his career as a coach as he was a player.
“It’s going to be difficult to replace him in the All Whites because he has been an integral part of the group on and off the pitch. But at the same time it offers someone else in the group an opportunity to step up into that leadership role.”
Henry Fa’arado:
“I was not surprised to learn of his retirement and I think it’s good for him to be giving something back to football. It was a great pleasure to play against a footballer of his calibre and at the same time he is a true professional in the way he carries himself around.
“His leadership qualities were always evident. You can see it in the players around him. Just his leadership and the way he does things, it was just so obvious. I guess it will be hard for the All Whites to fill his shoes – they are quite big shoes to fill.”
Olivier Dokunengo:
“I only played against him once, last year when we lost 2-0 at Numa Daly. I was feeling terrible because I had forgotten the flag to give him. I was stressed out and he relaxed me, saying with a smile, “you can give it to me at the end of the match”, which I didn’t have the chance to do. Some time after the match I shared some words with him, even if my English isn’t fantastic. In short, it’s these small anecdotes that allow me to say that he is a very accessible person who anyone can talk to. He is always smiling and very likeable.
“What I will remember of him is his career. A remarkable path, he has played in the big clubs of the Premier League. It’s a great success for Oceanian football, an example for all the youth of our region. I will also remember him for his great professionalism. A great defender, his career shows someone not very impressive physically, but very intelligent in his placement. An excellent player who the All Whites will miss, that is a certainty.
“He was very influential for the All Whites and you could feel it when they played. A certain respect emanated from the other players in regards to him, which is to be expected given the career he has had.”

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