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Ryan William Nelsen (born 18 October 1977) is a New Zealandmarker professional footballer who currently plays for Blackburn Roversmarker in the Premier League.


Early life

Nelsen was born in Christchurchmarker. After attending Our Lady of the Assumption primary school and St Thomas of Canterbury Collegemarker, Nelsen went to the United States of America to play for Greensboro College in North Carolinamarker in 1997. After spending two years at Greensboro and leading the team to the NCAA Division III Final Four, Nelsen moved to Stanford Universitymarker, where he played his final two years of college soccer. At Stanford, Nelsen was voted team MVP in his first year, and named an NSCAA All-American in his senior year, while playing as a defensive midfielder. During this time, he was awarded a Degree for his study of Political Science.

Club career

DC United

Nelsen was drafted 4th overall in the 2001 MLS SuperDraft by D.C. United, with whom he has spent four years in Major League Soccer. After emerging as a starter in 2002, Nelsen was named team captain in 2003, replacing Marco Etcheverry in that role, as well as winning the team's Defender of the Year Award and being named to the league's Best XI. He was named to the Best XI again in 2004, after captaining DC to its fourth MLS Cup. In four years in MLS, Nelsen scored seven goals and added five assists.

Blackburn Rovers

Nelsen was signed by Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer in January 2005, shortly after the 2004 MLS season had finished. In the summer of 2005, after just 6 months at the club, Nelsen was rewarded with a new 3 year contract after impressing Blackburn manager Mark Hughes by helping to turn their defence into one of the stingiest of the league, conceding only .67 goals per game after his arrival that season. Nelsen was successfully awarded a work permit when Blackburn launched an appeal after the initial application had been refused due to New Zealand being ranked outside the top 70 in the FIFA World Rankings.

Nelsen has been a revelation for Blackburn, as he's consistently produced top class performances to keep clean sheets against some of the Premier League's best strikers, alongside Zurab Khizanishvili, Andy Todd and Christopher Samba. In the 2005-06, Blackburn qualified for the UEFA Cup with a 6th place finish, but Nelsen missed the last couple of games after breaking his foot in a 2-0 win at Charlton Athletic. Nevertheless, his performances since arriving in England prompted much interest from rival clubs, notably Portsmouth having big bids turned down by Blackburn.

Despite recovering from the foot injury, Nelsen was dealt another serious blow before the start of the 2006-07 season, with a serious hamstring injury forcing him out until the new year. On his return to the team in an FA Cup 4th round win at Luton Town, he was immediately made captain, a clear indication of how highly the club regard him and he remains a fans favourite. In July 2007, he signed a new 5-year deal with the club. He scored his first league goal for Blackburnmarker with a header against Wigan on April 26, 2009 in a 2-0 win for Blackburnmarker.

International career

Nelsen made his New Zealand All Whites debut against Poland on June 19, 1999.Although he has been selected to play on numerous occasions, Nelsen had not represented New Zealand between his last appearance in 2004 and 2008 due largely to a recurring hamstring injury.Nelsen captained the New Zealand U-23 squad for their first appearance at the Olympic Games against China as one of three over-age players, alongside Simon Elliott and Chris Killen, although he was only available for the opening two matches as Blackburn had requested that he return in time to prepare for their opening Premier League game of the 2008-09 season against Everton.Nelsen captained the New Zealand National Football Teammarker side as they qualified for the 2010 Football World Cup, beating Bahrain National Football Teammarker in a two-legged playoff in November 2009.

Career statistics


  1. Ryan Nelsen Profile at NZ Soccer
  3. Ryan Nelsen | Blackburn Rovers | Team | 1st Team Profiles

External links

2001 DC United Major League Soccer 19 0
2002 20 4
2003 25 1
2004 17 2

2004-05 Blackburn Roversmarker Premier League 15 0 5 0 - - 20 0
2005-06 31 0 - 5 0 - 36 0
2006-07 12 0 5 0 - 2 0 19 0
2007-08 22 0 1 0 2 0 5 1 30 1
2008-09 35 1 2 0 2 0 - 39 1
2009-10 8 1 0 0 2 0 - 9 1

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