ALL WHITE football star and Premier League stalwart Ryan Nelson is set to leave London club Queens Park Rangers for the head coaching role at Major League Soccer club Toronto FC.
Nelson, 35, is contracted to QPR, currently bottom of the Premier League, until the end of June, but hopes to gain an early release.
If he does go it will be a blow to the West London side as the defender has been one of their best players in a poor season, and New Zealand, who had hoped to call on his experience as they attempt to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
His new assistant coach at Toronto, Fran O’Leary, will run the team until Nelsen is able to join them.
Toronto finished bottom of the table last season.
Before embarking on an English career that saw him play for Blackburn Rovers, Tottenham Hotspur and QPR, Nelsen played in the MLS with DC United.
He told reporters that he knew the time was right to hang up his boots.
“I think my knees have been telling me that for two or three years now,” he laughed.
“You just know. Even for the last couple of years I haven’t really been thinking like a player. But I have loyalties to QPR, it’s just a horrible situation, and I don’t want to leave them in this situation… but this opportunity, at a fantastic club in a fantastic city, was something I couldn’t turn down.”
Coaching had been on his mind for a while, and he said he had learnt a lot from the likes of Mark Hughes, Harry Redknapp and Paul Ince.
“What the fans can know, is that my teams will be very hard, they’ll be competitive, and they’ll never give up and fall over for any team. That’s the base we’ll go from.
“Looking from afar, I’ve admired the way the club was handled off the field, the passion the fans had, it was a shining light in a way as to how a club should be run and supported. Now to be part of it, it’s a privilege and extremely exciting.
“It’s a new era for me as well and it’s a challenge I’m excited about and I can’t wait for.”
IMAGE: Doug Smith via Wikimedia Commons