A Sandro Nesta is born once in a blue moon (or once in an Inter Champions League victory if you need a secondary comparison). A class defender who embodied the Milan franchise to perfection, and was an integral figure in the teams laundry list of trophies acquired in the past decade.
The 36 year old Nesta leaves Milan having played well over 300 matches for the club. A Laziale by birth, Sandro moved to the rossonero outfit a decade ago, and became a key clog in the center of defense.
Nesta the person
Despite being one of the finest defenders of his generation, I will remember Nesta for more than just the player he was on the pitch. You see, his very demeanor is what set him apart from most modern footballers. While the new generation of athletes are more interested in designer hair cuts, full body waxes, top models, bling bling, and automobiles priced at six figures, Nesta was a different breed. A subtle Champion who shied away from the limelight. Knowing Nesta personally, you would never be able to tell he was a worldwide icon in his field. He lived a very unassuming lifestyle, married and happy, and tried to stay as private as possible when dealing with the media.
I remember a story my father told me, not too long ago. He was at dinner with Alessandro in Miami a few years ago, and a group of Italians walked by and spotted Nesta. Delirious, all of them started shouting 'Mito!' (Italian for icon) and frantically flailing their arms. Nesta blushed immediately, and gave back a sheepish wave, embarrassingly looking down at his plate. I tell you this story because it describes Nesta the person in a nutshell. He was the consummate professional, one that went about his business in the most calm and respectable of ways. Always a class act on the field, and never a distraction for the club. He was a breath of fresh air (or rather, old air depending on how you look at it) from the modern day athlete that tweets, instagrams, and wears their inherent fame on their sleeve. Simply put, Sandro was the embodiment of what the Milan organization stood for in the past decades.
Nesta will be remembered as a legend
Nesta the player
He will be remembered as one of the finest center backs of the past decade. A player who was not blessed with world class physical qualities but yet relied on his phenomenal defensive technique, tackling, and anticipatory qualities. Not many players could read the game like Sandro. Nesta's absence next year will be a massive blow to a team who isn't sure about Silva's future as well. Sticking on point, it seems imminent (note: this article will be updated once official news arrives) that Nesta will sign with the New York Red Bulls, plying his trade in the American MLS. I leave this article bitter, knowing that good old Sandro still had one year of quality football in the tank. He wasn't ready to hang up the boots yet, and will undoubtedly be a massive help to the title chances of New York next season.
On an even sadder note, one must wonder if the departure of Nesta is a signal of things to come to the organization we love and have followed for so many years. A few days ago, Ibrahimovic came out in the media and had some scathing opinions about his possible departure if Milan doesn't go back to sticking to their original 'plan'. Could the departure of Nesta be followed by the ones of Ibrahimovic and Silva? No matter the outcome, today we celebrate a player that won everything throughout his storied career.
Coppa Italia: 3
UEFA Super Cup: 3
FIFA Club World Cup: 1
UEFA Champions League: 2
FIFA World Cup: 1
For now, the metaphorical book of Nesta's career remains open, and he will write another chapter overseas. Best of Luck Sandro, a legend who will always be remembered, on & off the field.
For a more tactical look at Milan v Inter, click here.
For the latest hour long Milan Insider Podcast, click here.
Visit my site, TheMilanGuy.com, for daily rossonero updates from a panel of writers! Follow my personal account on twitter And LIKE my new facebook page!