The City of Milan and AC Milan are in a celebratory mood right now. They have won the Serie A title after 11 years, and they are celebrating it with all their hearts. They won the Scudetto after a challenging period in their club’s history. But when they used to win the title in the past, there used to be a giant who stood like a wall in the defence for the Rossoneri. He was Alessandro Nesta.
Alessandro Nesta is a hybrid of a typical Italian defender mixed with the sumptuous elegance of some of Brazil’s greatest centre-backs. Along with Fabio Cannavaro, he is the most excellent defender of his generation and the perfect complement to his aforementioned Azzurri captain.
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 AC Milan, winning domestic and European honours with both clubs. Later in his career, he played in Major League Soccer (MLS) for the Montreal Impact and for Chennaiyin 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. In 2021, he was inducted into the Italian Football Hall of Fame.
Nesta was a member of the Italy national team for a decade from his debut in 1996, earning 78 caps. He competed at the 1996 Olympics, three UEFA European Championships, and three FIFA World Cups at the international level. 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.
Nesta began his career with Lazio and was their great hope, making 261 appearances in nine seasons, famously winning their second-ever Scudetto in 2000.
He left in 2002 for the Rossoneri, who paid a whopping 27 million pounds, but undoubtedly he has made that price seem a bargain by becoming the stalwart of the defence over ten seasons.
Nesta’s first two seasons with the Rossoneri were very successful. During the 2002–03 season, he won the Champions League for the first time as Milan defeated rivals Juventus at Old Trafford in the first all-Italian Champions League final in history. During the match, Nesta helped Milan keep a clean sheet, which went to a penalty shootout following a 0–0 deadlock after extra time. Nesta scored his penalty kick as Milan won the shootout 3–2.
Nesta also won the Coppa Italia over Roma during his first season at the club, while 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.