Ryan Nelsen confirms All Whites retirement

Last updated 14:40 23/01/2013
Ryan Nelsen
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EXIT PLAN: Ryan Nelsen will play his last game for QPR on January 29 against Manchester City.

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All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen has retired from international football.

Nelsen has personally confirmed he has spoken to New Zealand Football chairman Frank van Hattum and national coach Ricki Herbert today, advised them of his decision.

"After a lot of consideration I have decided to end my playing career with the All Whites," Nelsen said in a statement.

"I spoke with NZF chairman Frank Van Hattum and All Whites coach Ricki Herbert earlier today to personally confirm my decision to retire from international football.

"I wish Ricki and the team all the best in the lead up to the World Cup qualifiers in March and hopefully, the playoff matches later this year.

"I believe that I leave the team in a good space with quality players able to carry on the recent success the All Whites have enjoyed.

"Every time I pulled on a New Zealand shirt with the fern on my chest it was a very proud moment for me and I will miss it."

Nelsen retires from international football having played 49 matches - the last a 3-0 win over Tahiti in his home town of Christchurch.

The move was anticipated with Nelsen having already agreed his first coaching job, with Major League Soccer club Toronto FC, which is set to begin on February 1.

Nelsen's retirement means he has ruled himself out of helping the All Whites qualify for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

The All Whites face crucial third-stage qualifiers in March before an intercontinental playoff in November to reach Brazil the following year.

Nelsen said it is time to move on and thanked fans for their support.

"When you're not enjoying the playing side as much as other aspects of football, you know it is time to move on.  That time is now and I want to commit all my energies into my coaching career with Toronto FC," he said.

"I'd like to take the opportunity to thank New Zealand Football for their support through this decision making process and all the coaches, staff and teammates I have played for and with over my international career.

"I would also like to thank the New Zealand public for the tremendous support they have given me personally throughout my playing career and for their support of the All Whites and football in general.

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"I will join Toronto FC in a full time capacity on February 1 and look forward to the challenges ahead."

The 35-year-old will play his last game for Queens Park Rangers at home to the Premier League's defending champion Manchester City on January 29, Toronto said.

He was hired by the Canadian team on January 8. Toronto opens their season at the Vancouver Whitecaps on March 2.

The news will come as a relief for Toronto after QPR's failed bid to buy Swedish international Jonas Olsson looked like it could derail plans for Nelsen's early release. Nelsen's contract does not expire until June.

It always did not look good for New Zealand football when the 49-test international told a press conference after his Toronto signing he "just knew" it was the time to hang up his boots.

"I think my knees have been telling me that for two or three years now," he laughed.

- Stuff, AP

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