BLACKBURN Rovers star Ryan Nelsen has admitted he feels ‘helpless’ in the aftermath of the earthquake that killed at least 75 in his New Zealand hometown.

Club captain Nelsen, who also skippers his national side, told for the first time of his frustration at the devastation following Tuesday’s tremor in Christchurch.

The Rovers defender was born and brought up in the city and most of his family still live there.

He also revealed that his sister gave birth to a baby boy just half an hour after the lunchtime blast, which left scores more buried under rubble.

Nelsen said: “It is just a horrible feeling that you cannot do anything.

“I have been away from Christchurch for 14 or 15 years now and this is the first time I have really wished myself home. It is horrible.”

The Rovers star said he would return to the city ‘tomorrow’ if he thought he could help.

In an interview with Newstalk ZB radio in Auckland, he added: “Christchurch is like a little village - everybody knows each other and it is a fantastic place.

“The story that will come out is that there will be some real heroes.”

Nelsen said Rovers bosses had been ‘fantastic’ since the earthquake, telling him to take time off if he needed it.

He also revealed that he found common ground with striker Jason Roberts, who was in the UK when a huge hurricane ravaged his native Grenada in 2004.

As a mark of respect to those killed in Tuesday’s quake, Nelsen will wear a black armband during Rovers’ away match at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Today New Zealand prime minister John Key declared a national state of emergency, with more than 300 people still missing in Christchurch.

It is the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island and the country’s second-largest urban area.

Nelsen attended Our Lady of the Assumption Primary School, in Hoon Hay, and St Thomas of Canterbury College for Catholic boys in the suburb of Sockburn.

He played for Christchurch United, which was one of New Zealand’s top clubs in the 1970s and 1980s and was national league champion on six occasions between 1973 and 1991.

In 1997 he moved to the United States to play for Greensboro College in North Carolina and Stanford University where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

In the 2011 New Year's Honours, Nelsen was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.