Ryan Nelsen nearly misses Spurs deal of lifetime
Thu, 02 Feb 2012 1:39p.m.
By Greg Robertson
They say timing is everything in football – timing the ball when shooting on goal, the timing of a run or just knowing when to absorb pressure and turn defence into attack.
And when it comes to All White’s captain Ryan Nelsen, the right timing has been an integral part in his off-field career moves.
His latest shift, to English Premier League high-flyers Tottenham Hotspur, saw his timing bang on. A few days later and perhaps instead of joining Tottenham Hotspur we would have been talking about the beginning of a coaching stint.
His timing – and no doubt a tad of luck – has meant he’s not flying to America to join his old club DC United for a player/coach gig but instead he’s on a plane right now flying to London to train tomorrow with his nearly signed new club Spurs.
Before the Spurs' deal mushroomed from nowhere - among a flurry of others as the January transfer window ticked towards closing and Premier league teams did their last minute shopping – the informed word was that Nelsen was already departing Blackburn Rovers and heading back to America for the coaching role.
And Rovers manager Steve Kean must have known of Nelsen’s plans to use the top two inches on the training park a little more than his feet on the football field.
Following his side’s 2-0 loss to Newcastle today, pushing Rovers deeper into the relegation zone, Kean spoke of his defender’s plans.
"He was going to go back to America. He had an offer to go back there and be a player coach,” says Kean.
“He was very excited about it and then at the last minute Tottenham came in and offered him a short-term until the end of the season. He was a fabulous servant to the club."
Nelsen spent four years of his football career playing in the MSL, drafted fourth overall in the 2001 MLS Superdraft.
He then joined Rovers in England on a free transfer from United in 2005.
Now though, thanks to that super timing that has served him so well off and on the field, Nelsen is set to not only play Premiership football with a club at the top of the table, but possibly next season be the first New Zealand football player since Chris Killen at Celtic to play Champions League football. To qualify, Spurs have to finish in the top four of the EPL this season. Currently, they sit embedded in third, seven points clear of fourth spot and 10 points clear of fifth.
Nelsen’s deal with Spurs is until the end of this season, with an option to extend it for another year. So the chance of playing another one of the world’s biggest football tournaments is very real. As we already know, Nelsen captained the only unbeaten side in the last football World Cup.
Make no mistake, the move to Spurs is a massive career step for Nelsen and it must have been an easy decision for the 34-year-old to sideline any coaching ambitions.
In fact, Nelsen has been reported saying that the decision was a “no brainer”.
"It's obviously extremely exciting," Nelsen said. "It's not 100 per cent yet, I've just got a visa (change) to get over the line, but it's pretty much done,” he told Fairfax NZ.
"It's just an exciting opportunity at this stage of my career. I've loved my time at Blackburn, but it's something I just couldn't turn down."
It’s no secret that Spurs manager Harry Redknapp likes the big Kiwi.
In 2006, he tried to gain his services for Portsmouth. Yesterday he reinforced that to the media: "Ryan is a great competitor, a good sort to have around the place, I've always liked him," Redknapp told English newspapers.
Nelsen was released from his contract at Rovers after a meeting with officials, and it seems he has left the struggling club on excellent terms, already having best wishes sent to him from fans, teammates and the likes.
So out of nowhere, the news broke yesterday that Nelsen was off to Spurs – a team at the heights of the Premier League and European football competitions. The day before, he was an injured player signed with a club who was at the opposite end of the competition ladder and thinking about a career in coaching.
Nelsen’s timing, spot on – again.
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6/02/2012 9:06:21 p.m.
Rose and vince wrote:
Congrats Ryan on getting into Spurs. St Thomas of Canterbury should be really proud of you.
2/02/2012 11:31:33 p.m.
Nelsen is a good signing. I think a lot of other Spurs fans have missed the point of this. With Ledley/ Gallas/ Dawson all prone to injuries, with Nelsen (and Saha), we have short term, PL experienced 4th or 5th string COVER. They won’t see game time. All the youngsters have been loaned out to blood them now we are out of Europe, so we need 6 months of cover.
This windows activity is part of a longer term strategy. In the next year, IMHO we need a young consistent keeper (Tim Krul), and two strikers (Adebayor perm transfer and Damiao).
That lot will cost at least £30 million collectively, so money has to be made from selling squad players.
Pavlyuchenko has been sold. Pienaar, Corluka and Bassong are surplus and playing time on loan will see their stock rise for a summer sale. Caulker is the next Ledley; Naughton will be competition/ back up for Walker when they return in the summer.
The only surprise of this window for me is that Gomes/ Cudicini weren't sold/ loaned to be sold in the summer. Both are good keepers with something to contribute but surely with Friedel’s consistency and Harry’s unwillingness to rotate, having 3 senior goalkeepers over 30 on the payroll is excessive. At least one will go in the summer as well.
These sales will at least part fund the £30 million plus we need to spend in the summer.
2/02/2012 4:02:54 p.m.
This'll be the end of his career - He'll be lucky to even get on our bench. Don't know what Harry is playing at - Backing up for a 33 yr old who's always injured with a 34 year old with a dodgy knee who's played 1 game this year for Blackburn
2/02/2012 2:56:42 p.m.
I dont know what people think this is so great. Going from captain of rovers to a bit part player at spurs who will rarely get an appearance this season, and be lucky if he is resigned after the end of the season. He would have been better going back to blackburn and captaining them in the championship next season than fading into obscurity with spurs.
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