23 Jan 2013

Ryan Nelsen retires

5:14 pm on 23 January 2013

The All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen has officially hung up his boots after an illustrious football career which began in Christchurch and included stints in the USA from 2001 and a seven-year spell in the English Premier League for Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur and now Queen's Park Rangers.

Nelsen confirmed to New Zealand Football on Wednesday afternoon that his 49th international against Tahiti in October will be his last, meaning the 35-year-old has ruled himself out of helping the All Whites qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The All Whites play crucial third-stage qualifiers in March but are in the box seat to reach the intercontinental playoff in November against the fourth-best team from North and Central America, with the winner advancing to Brazil.

Nelsen's final Premier League appearance for QPR will be the home game against defending champions Manchester City in a week.

QPR also host third division side MK Dons this weekend in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Nelsen was contracted until the end of the Premier League season in June but has negotiated an early exit from QPR so he can begin working his new job as head coach at Major League Soccer side Toronto FC in a full-time capacity from February the 1st.

He says he knew it was time to retire from playing when he realised he wasn't enjoying it as much as helping mentor younger players. He said recently that his body - and particularly his knees - were telling him to give it up several years ago.

Nelsen says he's looking forward to the challenges ahead, and he's already making moves, picking up, among others, Auckland-born midfielder Nik Robson up in the MLS's supplemental draft.

Robson's spent one season in America playing at New Mexico.

And Nelsen has confirmed he will remain patron of the New Zealand Football Foundation.