Writer: Mikey Delap
Date:Wednesday January 21 2009
For a long time now the loyalty and heart warming commitment to a club has been long gone from the game of football, particularly at the highest level of the English game. Mercenaries like Craig Bellamy have embodied players who go to the club that offers the most money or he feels will help him the most. Another aspect of the modern game is a player will be subbed with the slightest injury, sometimes feigned, and be out for weeks to make sure a 'full' recovery is made. This is a far cry from the 70's when players used to battle on in the face of serious injuries.
But there is still and 'old school' approach to football, to the modern game, to English football and more specifically at our club... the man I speak of is club captain Ryan Nelsen.
A tough New Zealander who has been with the club for just over 5 years now and was a largely unknown defender from DC United in the American MLS when he was snapped up by then manager Mark Hughes on a free transfer. At the time little did we know we were going to getting one of the greatest free signings in the history of the club.
Ryan since day one has had that loyal approach to Rovers, the spirit he has displayed lead to him being appointed club captain due the desire and passion for the club as well as the organisation and leadership skills he brings to the Rovers team.
Now some detractors might come bounding in and say 'now hang on a minute, if another bigger club came in offering him more money, he would go, that's what the modern footballer does'... sadly they would be wrong.
Portsmouth three years ago, Man City in the summer and Spurs at varying points of his stay in England have been credited with an interest in Nelsen. Portsmouth even went in with a £5 million bid and a double your wages offer. But everytime a move was suggested Ryan has quashed talk at the earliest opportunity - stating his commitment to the Rovers cause. His love for the club is such that he has even said that he sees Rovers as 'his team'.
Furthermore people say that John Terry is the iron man of English football - again that is absolute nonsense.
In his stay with Blackburn, 'The Admiral' has suffered mid game from a head gash, a leg wound, a sprained ankle, a dead leg and more recently, an eye injury which required four stitches at half time. For each of these injuries Ryan got bandaged up and soldiered on for the cause, its a shame there aren't more like him.
For a true testament to the man's passion, look no further than his freak broken cocsix injury from 2 years ago. Ryan had the injury and kept going for a quarter of a campaign before finally being told to rest.
Doctors discovered the injury he carried on until he was told to stop ten games later. Now whilst some people will point out that he may have been suffering for no reason and seem to have a point can I ask you the following question? How much guts do you think it takes to carry on during that pain?
Strength of character is also a major factor in Ryan's appeal. Rovers have been unfortuanate enough to have had 2 managerial casualties this season, indeed in the last 6 months. Each time Ince and Allardyce were first been appointed who do you think the first man to back the new man was? If you have been paying attention you won't need me to answer that.
Throughout his five year stay at Rovers, Nelsen has seen a lot of changes and he has moved with the times and been through the ups and the downs but he has stayed true to the cause. He is always first to speak out when the team needs lifting and when critiscism heads their way.
The man is truly one of a kind and we are lucky to have him.
Date:Wednesday January 21 2009
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