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Football | International

Ryan Nelsen © Action Images

New Zealand skipper Nelsen to retire



New Zealand captain Ryan Nelsen said on Wednesday he will take up the coaching reins at Toronto FC next month, ending his playing career with both the All Whites and England's Queens Park Rangers.

Nelsen signed on as manager of the Major League Soccer side Toronto earlier this month, but it was unclear when he would begin his new duties as his QPR contract did not end until June 30.

QPR manager Harry Redknapp was keen for him to stay and help the Premier League side fight relegation but the 35-year-old said in a statement that he will join Toronto fulltime on February 1.

Nelsen also called time on his international career with the All Whites, admitting that age was catching up with him.

"When you're not enjoying the playing side as much as other aspects of football, you know it is time to move on," he said.

"That time is now and I want to commit all my energies into my coaching career with Toronto FC."

Nelsen led New Zealand at the 2010 World Cup, where his team of part-timers and journeymen held the then-champions Italy to a 1-1 draw before exiting in the group stages.

NZ Football chairman Frank van Hattum said he was pleased Nelsen had hung up his boots on his own terms after earning 49 caps for his country.

"His contribution to New Zealand football has been significant as an inspirational leader in every respect. Without doubt he is one of our all-time greats," he said.

Nelsen has previous Major League Soccer (MLS) experience, as a player during four years with Washington-based DC United, from 2001 to 2005. He was named in the league team of the season after captaining DC to their fourth MLS Cup in 2004.

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