(GREENSBORO, N.C.) — Former Pride men’s soccer player Ryan Nelsen will take part in the upcoming London Olympic Games as a member of the New Zealand national team. A native of Christchurch, New Zealand, Nelsen will be making his third Olympic appearance.
Nelsen captained New Zealand in the countries first ever Olympic appearance in 2004. He also helped guide New Zealand to its first ever point in a FIFA World Cup Finals match in a 1–1 draw with Slovakia in 2010. The Kiwi’s, or All Whites, also earned a 0-0 draw against Paraguay.
Nelsen gained international popularity after a standout college career. He was the fourth pick in the 2001 Major League Soccer (MLS) draft by D.C. United. Nelsen was named team captain and honored as the team’s Defender of the Year in 2003. He was also selected to the MLS Best XI in 2003 and 2004, awarded to the top 11 players in the league each year.
After the completion of the 2004 season, Nelsen joined the Blackburn Rovers of the Premiership. He spent seven full seasons in Blackburn before a brief stint with the Tottenham Hotspur in 2012. Nelsen recently signed with the Queens Park Rangers.
Nelsen played two years at Greensboro College before transferring to Stanford to finish out his career. In 1998, Nelsen led The Pride to a Dixie Conference Championship and a spot in the NCAA Division III National Championship game.
In his debut season in 1997, he was named First Team All-Conference and Rookie of the Year. Following the 1998 season, he was recognized as a Third Team All-American, First Team All-Region, and First Team All-Conference selection.
At Stanford, Nelsen was honored as the team’s Most Valuable Player as a junior and an All-American as a senior.
New Zealand will open its Olympic run on July 26 against Belarus at 2:45 p.m. EST.