Perhaps the best-known name in the New Zealand squad to British onlookers, Nelsen hasn't been a regular All Whites pick in recent years.
A recurrent hamstring injury and the need for long-distance flights restrict the Blackburn man's international appearances, and he has been used sparingly since 2004.
But Nelsen is there for his country when the stakes are high; he played both crunch play-off games with Bahrain and will captain the World Cup team
The 32-year-old is a traditional centre-half, good in the air and strong in the tackle and his Premier League know-how will be invaluable for the All Whites as they prepare to tackle the likes of Italy in the tournament.
Nelsen is approaching 200 games for Blackburn, who he joined in 2004 and now skippers.
He began his career in the USA, earning a bachelor's degree in political science whilst playing college soccer. He was still at University when he won his first New Zealand cap in 1999, and went onto to play in four MLS seasons with DC United.