New Zealand tragedy

Nelsen tribute to earthquake victims

February 24, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Blackburn Rovers captain Ryan Nelsen will wear a black armband against Aston Villa as a tribute to those who have died in an earthquake in his hometown Christchurch.

Ryan Nelsen felt 'helpless' as disaster unfolded
GettyImagesRyan Nelsen felt 'helpless' as earthquake hit his hometown in New Zealand

The New Zealand international was given the day off by Blackburn as he tried to contact relatives back home. Fortunately his family escaped unscathed from the disaster, although his sister went into labour early.

So far 75 people are confirmed dead while 300 more are missing and Nelsen, who said he felt 'helpless' as he watched Tuesday's events unfold, will play on as a mark of respect to his countrymen.

Nelsen said: "I'm going to wear a black armband but I don't know if the rest of my team-mates will be allowed.

"The club have been great, I didn't have to train on the morning it happened. My heart goes out to everyone, it's just devastating.

"Jason Roberts, one of my team-mates, is from Grenada and when a hurricane levelled that little island he was stuck here as well. I just feel so helpless, it's horrible.

"I was up when I heard about it - at about 2am - but couldn't get hold of anybody."

He added: "My sister literally went into labour pretty much half an hour after the earthquake. She was rushed to hospital and it was a bit of a struggle but, thank God, she had a little baby boy.

"But you hear stories about other families and your heart just drops. I'd go back tomorrow if I knew I could help."