Date: 6th December 2010 at 9:09am
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Rovers club captain and all round good egg Ryan Nelsen has been nominated as a finalist in the New Zealander of the Year awards.

Ryan has been nominated for being one of the main driving forces behind New Zealand going through the World Cup undefeated in a tricky group with Paraguay, Italy and Slovakia.

Nelsen was inspired in all three games and bought tears to the eyes of the All Whites fans that were in the stands when NZ pulled off a 1-1 draw with former World Champions Italy.

The New Zealand Herald is running a feature on Ryan today and here is an extract – ‘Judging one player’s influence over a team is a tricky business and open to plenty of argument.

But when it comes to Ryan Nelsen there can be no doubt the All Whites’ captain was the pivotal figure in not only getting the national soccer side into the World Cup finals, but in their remarkable Group F draws against Slovakia, Italy and Paraguay.

This may stand forever as New Zealand’s finest hour in international soccer. As such, Nelsen may well be our finest soccer player, certainly in influence.

To remain undefeated through a World Cup group is tough, even for nations with far greater pedigree than New Zealand’s – as 2006 champions Italy found out.

The All Whites could have been embarrassed in South Africa. Instead, they were the fairytale story of the tournament, despite what evolved into disappointment about not progressing to the knockout stage.

Nelsen’s mana with the players, and brilliant defending, was the key to it all. More specifically, he quickly drew the best out of new young defenders Tommy Smith and Winston Reid.’

Fantastic achievement regardless of whether he wins the competition or not.

What a magnificent example to everybody and a truly fantastic human being.

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