Nelsen given green light for Olympic Games dream

July 2, 2008

Ryan Nelsen will play for New Zealand in the Olympic Games after new Blackburn Rovers manager Paul Ince granted the defender a release to play in Beijing.

The 30-year-old Rovers captain will join the New Zealand Under-23 squad as one of three over-age players for the tournament in China and will link up with the squad ahead of their opening match against the hosts in Shenyang on August 7.

Nelsen will return to England after the Kiwis' second match against Brazil on August 10 in time for Blackburn's opening Barclays Premier League match against Everton on August 16.

Nelsen has not played for New Zealand since 2004 because of a recurring hamstring injury.

'It's great news,' Under-23 coach Stu Jacobs told www.nzsoccer.co.nz. 'We've got one of the world's best defenders lining up for us in two crucial matches.

'The reality is that the club didn't have to release the player so Blackburn have really come to the party.

'They've got a new manager in Paul Ince who hasn't even met his captain yet but he said he knew Ryan was desperate to play and given the magnitude of the Olympic Games he was more than happy to help out where he could.'