Guard of honour for Nelsen after last QPR game

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 11:26 30/01/2013
Ryan Nelsen
Reuters
HONOURED: Ryan Nelsen was given a guard of honour by QPR fans and players.

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Ryan Nelsen has been chanted off the field by Queens Park Rangers fans and teammates formed a guard of honour after his final English Premier League football match this morning (NZT).

The former All Whites captain signed off from a wonderful playing career in typical fashion, with a solid display at the heart of QPR's defence as the hosts held title contenders Manchester City to a scoreless draw at Loftus Road in London.

Nelsen had signalled that today's match would be his last before flying out to Canada to assume his new role as head coach of Toronto FC in North America's Major League Soccer.

Though reports in England suggest QPR manager Harry Redknapp wants to keep him at Loftus Road a little longer as his team fights to get out of the relegation zone, the post-match scenes suggest this was it for the stalwart.

Nelsen has been at QPR for less than a season but he's still won the fans over. As he applauded the faithful in the stands on his way off the pitch, they returned the favour with chants of 'There's only one Ryan Nelsen'.

Nelsen's teammates, too, showed their respect for Nelsen's premier league career by forming a guard of honour as he left the field.

The Cantabrian made his premier league debut for Blackburn Rovers in 2005 and has forged a reputation in one of the world's top league's as high quality central defender and leader with an outstanding work ethic and hard-nosed approach to the game.

QPR fans have taken straight to Twitter to acknowledge his short contribution to the club, with this tweet summing up the mood: ''Good luck Ryan Nelsen, been an absolute rock for us. Don't know where we'd be without him''.

Fans of Blackburn Rovers, for whom Nelsen played more than 170 matches, also paid tribute.
One tweeted: ''If Ryan Nelsen puts as much passion into management as he did wearing the shirt, then he will become a fantastic manager. Rovers legend.''

Another wrote: ''Nice to see Ryan Nelsen being appreciated by #qpr fans. Always be a hero to us #Rovers fans.''

Nelsen, 35, announced earlier this month that he was retiring to become head coach of Toronto, the worst performing team in the MLS in recent seasons.

He has also called time on international football after 49 internationals for the All Whites.

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The only Kiwi to so far make a mark in the English Premier League, he will go down as one of New Zealand Football's greats, and the best player since Wynton Rufer.

His lasting legacy in an All Whites shirt will be his performances in the two World Cup qualifying matches against Bahrain in 2009, and at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where he led New Zealand to unprecedented draws against Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay.

He was named in one international media outlet's tournament team.

- Stuff

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