Nesta playing for the Montreal Impact in 2013
|Date of birth||19 March 1976|
|Place of birth||Rome, Italy|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 1 1⁄2 in)|
|Playing position||Centre back|
|Miami FC (head coach)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Widely considered to be one of the best centre backs of his time and also as one of the greatest defenders ever, he was best known for his pace, artistic tackles, elegance on the ball, distribution, and tight marking of opponents. He made over 400 Serie A appearances in a 20-year career spread between Lazio and Milan, winning domestic and European honours with both clubs as well as playing in Major League Soccer for the Montreal Impact. He also had a stint with Chennaiyin FC of the Indian Super League. Nesta is a four-time Serie A Defender of the Year and a four-time member of the annual UEFA Team of the Year. In 2004 he was named as one of the Top 100 greatest living footballers as part of FIFA's 100th anniversary celebration.
He was a member of the Italian national side for a decade from his debut in 1996, earning 78 caps in total. At international level, he competed at the 1996 Olympics, three UEFA European Championships, and three FIFA World Cups. Nesta was a member of the Italian team that won the 2006 World Cup, and he also represented the Italian side that reached the final of Euro 2000.
In 1985, Nesta joined Lazio's youth academy. In 1993, Dino Zoff called him up to the first team and gave him his Serie A debut on 13 March 1994, in a 2–2 away draw against Udinese; Nesta came on for Pierluigi Casiraghi during the 78th minute. He assumed the team captaincy in 1997 under Sven-Göran Eriksson, and helped Lazio win the 1998 Coppa Italia after beating his future team Milan in the final, in which he scored the winning goal. Lazio also made the UEFA Cup Final that season, losing out to Inter Milan in an all-Italian final. Nesta was awarded the Serie A Young Footballer of the Year Award at the 1998 Italian footballing awards, for his performances for Lazio throughout the season. These honours were soon followed by a Supercoppa Italiana, and an UEFA Cup Winners' Cup during the 1998–99 season. Lazio missed out on the Scudetto that season, finishing behind Milan by a single point. Lazio managed a rare Scudetto and Coppa Italia double during the 1999–2000 season, in addition to capturing the European Super Cup over Manchester United. Lazio also managed to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League that season, which was their best ever result in the competition, losing out to eventual finalists Valencia. During the 2000–01 season, under Zoff, Lazio won the Italian Super Cup and finished third in Serie A, reaching the second group stage of the UEFA Champions League and the Quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia. The following season was less successful, as a weakened Lazio squad finished in sixth place in Serie A, and was eliminated in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, reaching the Coppa Italia semi-final, however. Nesta's performances and success for Lazio during this period earned him three consecutive Serie A Defender of the Year awards between 2000 and 2002.
Just before the 2002–03 Serie A campaign, financial woes forced Lazio to sell many of their best players. Nesta was transferred to Milan for €30,987,000 (60 billion lire). During this time, he would form a formidable defensive line alongside Maldini, Cafu, Costacurta and Stam, among others. His first two seasons with the Rossoneri were very successful. During the 2002–03 season, Nesta won the 2002–03 UEFA Champions League for the first time in his career, playing against rivals Juventus at Old Trafford, in the first all-Italian Champions League Final in history. Nesta helped Milan keep a clean sheet during the match, which went to a penalty shootout following a 0–0 deadlock after extra time. Nesta was able to net his penalty, and Milan won the shootout 3–2. Nesta also won the Coppa Italia over Roma during his first season at the club, whilst Milan finished third in Serie A that season. Nesta was once again awarded the Serie A Defender of the Year award for his performances, and was elected to be part of the UEFA Team of the Year.
The following season, Milan lost both the Italian Supercup final to Juventus, and the Intercontinental Cup final to Boca Juniors, on penalties. Nesta managed to win the European Super Cup with Milan against Porto, however, and captured his second Scudetto that season, during which Milan set an Italian record for points won. Milan were eliminated in the Quarter finals of the Champions League, and in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, to eventual winners Lazio, although Nesta managed to score a goal in the quarter-final match against Roma. Nesta was once again elected to be part of the UEFA Team of the Year, for the third consecutive season.
Nesta began the next season by defeating his former team Lazio to capture the Italian Supercup. Milan also reached the Champion's League Final in 2005, losing to Liverpool on penalties, whilst in Serie A, they finished behind Juventus. Despite finishing second in both Serie A and the Champions League, Nesta was elected to the 2005 FIFPro World XI for the first time in his career, for his performances.
During the 2005–06 Serie A season, Milan once again finished behind Juventus in the league, although both Juventus and Milan were later deducted points for being involved in the 2006 matchfixing scandal, and the title was awarded to Inter, whilst Juventus were relegated, with Milan finishing in third place after the point deduction. Milan also reached the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006, losing out to eventual champions Barcelona, whilst they were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia.
Despite missing most of the 2006–07 season due to a shoulder injury, Nesta played a vital part in Milan's return to the 2006–07 Champions League final, where Milan avenged their 2005 final loss, defeating Liverpool 2–1 in Athens. Despite Milan's point deduction during the season, Nesta was also able to return from injury in time to help Milan manage a fourth-place finish in Serie A, clinching the final Champions League spot. Nesta was elected to be part of both the UEFA Team of the Year and the FIFPro World XI for his performances that season.
Nesta won his third European SuperCup in August 2007, when Milan defeated Sevilla 3–1. Nesta signed a contract extension that would keep him at Milan until 2011. Nesta went on to score his first goal for Milan since April 2006 in a 1–1 draw with Siena on 15 September 2007. He followed this up with an important goal for Milan in the 4–2 victory over Boca Juniors in the final of the 2007 FIFA Club World Cup. Milan would disappoint throughout the rest of the season, however, finishing 5th in Serie A, and being eliminated in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League and the Coppa Italia.
Serious back injuries forced Nesta out of action for the whole 2008–09 season which raised concerns about his chances to make a comeback into active football. He fully recovered from his injuries and came on as 77th-minute substitute in Milan's final away game to Fiorentina on 31 May 2009 for his first competitive appearance of the season. Milan finished the season in third place.
The following season Nesta scored his first brace for Milan in a 2–1 victory over Chievo in the Serie A. He began to re-emerge as a starter for the club and was one of Milan's most consistent players throughout the entire 2009–10 season under Leonardo. Nesta continued his excellent partnership with fellow centerback Thiago Silva throughout the 2010–11 season under Massimiliano Allegri, forming a formidable defensive pairing, conceding just 24 goals in 38 games during Milan's victorious Serie A campaign. Milan also managed to reach the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia, but were once again disappointingly eliminated in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Throughout the 2010–11 season, speculation indicated that Nesta would retire at the end of the season. However, he later confirmed that he wanted to play one more season at Milan before retiring and signed a contract extension on 18 May 2011, which kept him on Milan's squad until summer 2012. Nesta was elected to be part of the Serie A Team of the Year, for his performances during Milan's successful title run that season.
Nesta began his final season with Milan by winning the Supercoppa Italiana on 6 August 2011, defeating city rivals Inter 2–1 in Beijing. Milan finished second to Juventus in Serie A that season, and were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia and the quarter-finals of the Champions League. On 10 May, during a press conference, Nesta announced his retirement from Serie A at the end of the season. During his ten seasons at the Milanese club, Nesta collected 325 caps, scoring 10 goals. With Milan, he won two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, two Italian Supercups, two Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and a FIFA Club World Cup.
On 5 July 2012, Nesta signed a contract with the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer (MLS). He signed an 18-month contract on a free transfer. The club also stated he would not be signed as a designated player. The defender joined fellow Italians Matteo Ferrari, Bernardo Corradi and Marco Di Vaio at the Canadian club. He retired at the end of the 2013 season.
He made his debut against Lyon in a friendly game on 24 July. He made his competitive debut three days later in a 3–1 home win over the New York Red Bulls. He received his first red card in Major League Soccer during a 2–1 win over Sporting Kansas City on 1 June 2013, for headbutting an opponent. In 2013, Nesta won his first and only title with Montreal Impact: the Canadian Championship, which allowed the club to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League the next season. In that season's CONCACAF Champions League, Montreal ended their group in a three-way, six-point tie, finishing second on goal difference and failing to progress to the quarter-finals.
On 20 October 2013, Nesta announced that he would be retiring at the conclusion of the 2013 MLS season after playing parts of two seasons with the Impact, helping them to qualify for the MLS playoffs for the first time in the club's history.
On 28 November 2014, it was announced that Nesta had signed for Chennaiyin FC of the Indian Super League for the remainder of the 2014 season. He was signed by Marco Materazzi, his former international defensive partner. He made his debut on 9 December in a 2–2 draw against Delhi Dynamos FC, partnering Mikaël Silvestre in central defence in Chennaiyin's last game of a regular season in which they topped the league.
Alessandro Nesta began his career for Italy and was a member of the Under-21 squad that won the 1996 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship. A few months later, he was named to Italy's UEFA Euro 1996 squad in England by Arrigo Sacchi, but did not come off the bench as Italy were eliminated in the group stage by eventual finalists Germany and the Czech Republic. He earned his first cap for the Azzurri under Cesare Maldini in a qualifier for the 1998 FIFA World Cup against Moldova on 5 October 1996 and eventually made seven appearances in the qualifying campaign. At the final tournament, Nesta played in all three group games, playing alongside Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Costacurta and Giuseppe Bergomi, helping Italy keep a clean sheet against Cameroon. He made no further appearances due to injury, however, as Italy were eliminated by the hosts and eventual champions France on penalties in the quarter-finals.
After featuring in defence for Italy during the Euro 2000 qualifying campaign under Dino Zoff, Nesta featured in the Italian starting lineup at UEFA Euro 2000, partnering with Paolo Maldini and Fabio Cannavaro in defence throughout most of the tournament. Italy only conceded two goals en route to the final, and kept three clean sheets throughout the tournament; the first coming against co-hosts Belgium in the group stage, and the second against Romania in the quarter-finals, in which he was named man of the match. In the semi-final, a ten-man Italy overcame co-hosts the Netherlands in a penalty shootout, after a 0–0 deadlock following extra time. Italy advanced to the final where they faced defending World Cup Champions France. Following a goal by Marco Delvecchio in the 55th minute, Italy led the match 1–0 until the final minute of stoppage time, when Sylvain Wiltord scored the equaliser. David Trezeguet then scored the golden goal in extra time for France to defeat the Italians in the second consecutive tournament, as the Italians finished the Euro as runners-up. Nesta, along with his defensive partners Maldini and Cannavaro, was elected to be part of the team of the tournament for his performances.
After Euro 2000, Nesta's remained a first-choice centre back for Italy under new manager Giovanni Trapattoni, featuring extensively during the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign. During the 2002 World Cup, he partnered Fabio Cannavaro in central defence, keeping a clean sheet in the opening win against Ecuador, but once again, injury kept him from playing in the second round, and Nesta did not feature in the controversial second round defeat to co-hosts South Korea. Nesta featured prominently as Italy topped their Euro 2004 qualifying group. Italy's disappointment at major tournaments continued at UEFA Euro 2004, however, where they were eliminated in the first round following a three-way five point tie with Denmark and Sweden, only to be eliminated on direct encounters. Nesta managed to stay injury free and played for a full 90 minutes in all three group games, helping Italy to keep a clean sheet in the opening draw against Denmark.
Following two successive disappointments, newly appointed manager Marcello Lippi kept Nesta in the starting lineup as Italy topped their qualification group en route to the 2006 World Cup. Despite starting the final tournament strongly, helping Italy to keep a clean sheet in their opening win over Ghana, the World Cup turned out to be a personal disappointment for Nesta, as an injury in the final group game against the Czech Republic, which Italy won 2–0, put him on the sidelines while Italy went on to win the trophy. After the World Cup, Nesta made one appearance in the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Georgia but continuous injuries forced him to retire from the international team. Prior to the final tournament, Nesta declined Roberto Donadoni's invitation to return to the national team. Two years later, he similarly turned down an invitation from Marcello Lippi prior to the 2010 World Cup.
Style of play
Nesta was a complete and dominant defender, who was influential both at club and international level, and who is regarded by pundits as being one of the greatest and most talented defenders both of his generation, and of all time. Despite being a strong and imposing defensive, athletic and physical presence, he was also an extremely elegant player, with excellent ball skills, vision and passing ability for a defender, which allowed him to bring the ball out of the defence. His technical, defensive and athletic ability made him a versatile player from a tactical standpoint, and allowed him to be deployed also as a fullback or even as a sweeper, on occasion, during his career. Nesta was also excellent in the air, and was also unusually quick for a centreback.
In addition to his technical and physical ability, Nesta also possessed an excellent positional sense and an acute tactical ability to read the game, and he excelled at tightly marking opposing players, and at preventing and anticipating attacking plays. He was also an accurate and tenacious tackler. Despite his talent, Nesta's career suffered from the many injuries he encountered, which hindered him from playing in the knockout stages at each of the three World Cups at which he participated.
On 7 May 2007, Nesta married his fiancée, Gabriela Pagnozzi, in a civil ceremony in Milan; the religious ceremony followed on 30 May 2007. Gabriela was working for Casa Italia, the Italian national team HQ, during the 1998 World Cup. Their relationship was born when she tended to him following his injury against Austria. "I can say, I got the injury and her in France then. And the injury has gone, [but] she has stayed with me." Their daughter, Sofia, was born on 19 October 2006 and on 20 March 2008 their son Tommaso was born.
Nesta appeared in the 1998 Italian film Paparazzi, directed by Neri Parenti. He was also on the cover of the Italian edition of SCEE's This is Football 2002. Nesta features in EA Sports' FIFA football video game series; he was included in the Ultimate Team Legends in FIFA 16.
1Continental competitions include the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup and CONCACAF Champions League
2Other tournaments include the Supercoppa Italiana, UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Intercontinental Cup and FIFA Club World Cup
|Italy national team|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Alessandro Nesta.|
- MLS player profile
- National Team Statistics at FIGC official site
- FootballDatabase.com provides Nesta's profile and stats