All Whites legend Ryan Nelsen: ‘I was told to quit the game when I was 18’

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All Whites legend Ryan Nelsen says the legacy of his long professional career is a knee that looks “like a horrible tree stump”.

And he’s told readers of the UK’s FourFourTwo magazine that the condition of his knee was such that he was given medical advice to quit the game when he was a teenager.

“At 18, I was told that I’d never play another competitive game,” Nelsen (45) says in the interview.

“The big problem was the cartilage in the weight-bearing part of my left knee.

“I remember the doctor saying, ‘You’ve got to be careful’, but I thought, ‘If they think I won’t play again, why be careful?’

“So I went away and trained hard to get it strong — sure, it hurt like hell, but it paid off. It was a bit of Russian roulette and I got lucky. It still always came up on scans, though.”

Nelsen, who anchored the All Whites defence at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, played 198 games in the English Premier League for Blackburn Rovers (172), Spurs (5) and Queen’s Park Rangers (21).

“There’s no shape in my knee now, you can’t see it. It’s like a horrible tree stump.”

Main photo: Ryan Nelsen enjoying the moment as the All Whites clinch World Cup qualification after their 1-0 win against Bahrain in Wellington. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

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