independent

Friday 25 April 2014

Nelsen to join Toronto in February

Ryan Nelsen's last game in a QPR shirt could come this month

QPR are set to lose Ryan Nelsen earlier than they had hoped after Toronto FC announced he will join them as head coach from February 1.

The New Zealand defender, 35, agreed his move to Major League Soccer at the start of January, at which stage QPR manager Harry Redknapp said he hoped to keep him on the Loftus Road playing staff for "most of the season".

However, Toronto now expect Nelsen to be at the club by the beginning of next month, announcing his start date at a media day on Wednesday. Asked to confirm the reported news, a Toronto FC spokesman said: "Yes, confirmed."

That means Nelsen's last match for QPR could be the January 29 Premier League home game against champions Manchester City.

Toronto's players have returned from their close-season break to begin training for the new campaign, and Nelsen's first task will be to lead the team on a warm-weather trip to Orlando, beginning on his first day in the job.

Nelsen told Toronto FC TV he had been targeting a senior coaching role for a long time. Wearing a Toronto tracksuit top, he said of his change in roles: "I just love it. It's where my head's been for a few years now.

"You love everything about football but playing I didn't really enjoy so much as coaching. When that was happening, I knew it was time."

Nelsen has been one of few players to shine for QPR this season, having joined the west Londoners in June following spells at Blackburn and Tottenham, and he had a contract for the rest of the campaign.

The move to Canada is set to bring his playing career to an end. Nelsen has recently made it clear there will be no playing role for him back in MLS, having made his name there during a four-year spell with DC United - another club he was recently linked to.

The move to Canada will see him link up once again with Toronto's president and general manager Kevin Payne, who was an executive at DC United when Nelsen played there.

Press Association

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