New Zealand defender comes out of retirement for Confederations Cup

May 22nd, 2009 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Chelsea Wellington, May 22 (DPA) New Zealand called one of its most experienced international footballers out of retirement Friday to join the squad for next month’s Confederations Cup in South Africa following the withdrawal of captain Ryan Nelsen with a calf injury.
Ivan Vicelich, 32, who has 63 caps for the national All Whites, retired from the international scene last year after returning home from eight years in the Netherlands with Roda JC and RKC Waalwijk.

He has kept match fit, captaining Auckland City to victory in the New Zealand Football Championship grand final and the Oceania League last season, winning the club’s player of the year award.

The defender scored a goal when he last played for New Zealand in its 2-0 away win over Fiji in a World Cup qualifying match in October 2007.

“Last year I felt the time was right to retire but the pride of being an All White doesn’t fade, and if the coach says he needs you to do a job for the team, you can’t ignore that,” Vicelich said.

He played alongside Nelsen in New Zealand’s two previous Confederations Cup appearances in 1999 and 2003.

Coach Ricki Herbert said Vicelich’s experience made him the obvious replacement for English-based Nelsen, who is sidelined for at least six weeks with a torn calf muscle incurred during Blackburn Rovers’ match with Chelsea last weekend.

“Ivan’s played over 60 games for the national team, and when you’re up against the best teams in the world you need someone who can not only slot into the environment seamlessly but also add to it,” Herbert said.

The New Zealand-based players in the 23-man cup squad are scheduled to leave for Africa on May 27.

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