Sporting KC's Jimmy Nielsen Explores A Troubled Past And His Triumphant Present in Welcome to the Blue Heaven
All Library locations will be closed on Monday, May 30, for Memorial Day.
June 7, 2013
As Major League Soccer's Goalkeeper of the Year for 2012, Jimmy Nielsen - with his on-field skills and oversized personality - has become a favorite of Sporting KC fans.
But as he reveals in his new memoir, Nielsen came to his current success the hard way, overcoming a gambling addiction that earned him the nickname "Casino Jimmy."
Neilsen explores his troubled past and triumphant present during the official launch of his new book Welcome to the Blue Heaven: Don't Bet Against the Goalkeeper on Thursday, June 20, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
Compared from a young age to Denmark's greatest-ever goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, Nielsen was scouted by Manchester United and a host of other leading European clubs. But at the point when he should have been building a great career he was instead developing a ferocious gambling habit.
In 1999, he was dropped from Denmark's Under-21 team after missing curfew because of a lost night at the roulette table. Still, Nielsen continued to gamble, with the stakes getting so high that he was able to win $500,000 on a single night at one casino and then throw most of that away at the same table a day later.
His losses finally caught up to him in 2004, when his inability to pay off a gambling debt helped put a major bookie out of business. Avoiding bankruptcy only with financial assistance from his soccer club and with the support of a family he feared would desert him, Nielsen gradually pieced his life back together.
Nielsen spent almost his entire career with one Danish team - he started a record 398 games and won the Danish championship in 1999 - but was ready for a change and contemplating retirement from soccer when in 2010 a phone call from Kansas City offered him a contract with an American club he didn't even know existed.
Nielsen could not even have pointed out Kansas City on a map at that stage, but two years on he claims he is the happiest he has ever been with a new lease on life.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407.