Jimmy Nielsen, Sporting Kansas City’s brick wall for a goalkeeper, is affectionately known as the “White Puma” because of his trademark white-blond hair. Hailing from Denmark Nielsen got his youth career started at Aalborg BK and appearing in the U-19 and U-21 Danish national teams before heading to England to sign for Millwall. After only a year and no game time, Nielsen returned to Aalborg BK, where he spent a large portion of his career, making 342 appearances in the Danish team’s goal. During his time with hometown club Aalborg BK the team won the Danish Superliga (1999) and he was named Danish Goalkeeper of the Year in 1998 and 2004.
Nielsen joined Sporting KC in February 2010 just before the MLS season began having been contacted by Manager Peter Vermes and being convinced not to retire from the sport. Nielsen has recently reached the 100 appearance milestone for the club and has become a fan favorite. He is known for sticking his tongue out and wagging it back and forth after making saves, something he says he’s done since he was young. He’s also a season ticket holder to the Kansas City Chiefs, and he often comments on their status on his Twitter account (@PumaNielsen1).
Nielsen, currently 35 years old, certainly does not show signs of his age and Sporting KC fans have been lucky he chose to continue on in order to play for them. Nielsen is consistently nominated for or winning MLS Save of the Week honors, winning all six times he was nominated in 2012, with his quick, reaction saves. 2012 also saw Nielsen named to the 2012 MLS AT&T All-Star team, the 2012 MLS Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, and to the 2012 MLS Best XI for the season.
The star goalkeeper signed a contract extension in 2011 to keep him in Kansas City through the 2013 season, with an option for 2014.
“There was never a question that I wanted to stay, after Peter told me that he would like me here as well,” Nielsen said. “I’ve only had Sporting on my mind, and I’m excited to play in front of our fans for the next couple of years that lie ahead as we work towards winning a championship.”