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Posted by Matteo Bonetti on 05/10/2012

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 ©AP

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.


Scudetto: 3
Coppa Italia: 3
Supercoppa: 4
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.

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Posted by Ryo on 05/10/2012

How come Italy does not brew this kind of player anymore? Where did all the classy Italian defender go? The type that do not rely on speed, but technnique...

Posted by Anthony on 05/10/2012

I always read your blogs and listen to you on the Milan insider on beyondthepitch. This article is spot on, I feel he could of won a lot mode recognition, he easily was one of if not the best centre back of his generation, you could tell he was a humble man . Milan's backline won't be the same , if we don't buy a world class or potential world class replacement we will have problems from here on out. Grande Nesta!

Posted by Husam on 05/10/2012

I was really saddened by the news of his departure, he like you said presented the final string of legendary and humble defenders in Italy.
Life goes on and there was going to be a time when we would've said that Nesta had become a burden on the team, he didn't allow things to go that way, therefore, we should respect his wishes and remember him for the player and example he was.
Unfortunately now, Milan is going to have to dig in deep if they have any true wish of returning to top levels.

Posted by alven on 05/10/2012

i think you forgot that Nesta during his time with Lazio, has won UEFA Winners Cup once in 1999 (today that competition are not existent anymore). One of the greatest defender that Italia ever had. sorely missed. this come from a juventini

Posted by ayozie humphrey benzino on 05/10/2012

Why would Milan allow Nestas departuere

Posted by Matteo Bonetti on 05/10/2012

@ayozie humphrey

What do you recommend, that they lock him in a room hostel style with a gun to his head until he agrees to stay?

Posted by Eugenia on 05/11/2012

i'm truly sad to see him leave. he is my favorite player. his humbleness win me over. his calm and composure is just admirable. He was still schooling Messi at the age of 35. Milan is waving goodbye to such a great talent that we will not able to see such class until the birth of another blue moon (referencing to you). Nice read, Matteo.

Posted by Landon on 05/11/2012

Great article. The idea of a mass departure from Milan is very dangerous. Hope Seedorf, Nesta, and Inzaghi get subbed off Maldini style on sunday.

Posted by Paan Andrew on 05/11/2012

Nesta and Maldini, 2 best defenders (ever!) that I have the privilaged to watch playing together. 2 icons, 2 legends, 1 team. Missed watching Maldini on the pitch, now will miss watching Nesta wearing the red and black... All the best!

Posted by brotherhid on 05/11/2012

Nesta and older Cannavaro indeed the last classy technical defender for Italy. An Sandro had all trophy that he could get. Awsome carrier with beloved AC Milan.... He is AC Milan living legend.... Grazie Nesta..

Posted by cuthbert karwendo on 05/11/2012

i'll really miss a legend.nesta was and remain my best central i loved an autograph of such a great footballer.

Posted by Carlos on 05/11/2012

Prandelli should call him for the Euro. I mean, he retired to focus on Milan. Now that is free from it, he should play because his season are going to be less demanding.

Forza Nesta

Posted by dana on 05/11/2012

nice piece, matteo. been 22 years as milanista, am spending my whole life loving Milan... i hv 4 players i love d most (in order): Maldini, Pirlo, Nesta, and Pippo. seems none left next season. its not only talent n skill that made them such examples n legends, but mostly their personality. hat off for few of d most respectful athletes on earth!!! good luck sandro... gonna miss u to death in red&black jersey....

Posted by Sam on 05/11/2012

As an Inter fan, Nesta, alongside Maldini, was a player that I simply could not dislike. He was a true professional, great player and great opponent. It is a sad day not just for Milan but all of Italian football. It is perhaps fitting that a player of his class is leaving a league which is looking more and more classless.
I can only commiserate that Milan have moved away from this type of player and now seem hell bent on hiring every bad boy, tough tackling, contract breaking hardman they can find. They seem to have lost a lot of their lustre.

Posted by milanforever on 05/11/2012

I can't believe he is finally leaving...sad day. One of the best defenders to play the game period! They need to retire his jersey. Milan is changing...I hope it's for the better.

Posted by Jozsef on 05/11/2012

I read your article and it brought me memories of the time when I had the opportunity to meet Maldini in the Summer of 1997. When I lived in Milan, we used to have a membership at this private club called Harbour Club. I was there for a few weeks of tennis camp, and there was a few days when there was a squad of Ac Milan players coming in there to work out with their trainers including Maldini. There was Bogan, Kluivert, Leonardo, and Maldini, we approached them for a signature at an early brunch and Maldini didn’t just give us his signature but he also invited us to sit at the table. Awesome times, it is one of the many reasons why I bleed red and black. I will miss Nesta, but I suppose it is time to look in the future and start to build a younger and stronger team. Thank you Nesta for your remarkable 10 years.

Posted by D on 05/11/2012

Baresi ... Maldini .. now Nesta
Sad to see probably my favorite player of all time hang 'em up from Serie A. Wish him the best.

Time to sign Ogbonna.

As an aside, think the Union would be a better destination for Nesta than NY. The italian influence in Philadelphia would be good for him (and spreading some of the stars around MLS would be good for the league). Can't have all the europeans going to LA or NY.

Posted by iwc24 on 05/11/2012

just heard the podcast a couple of days ago but i was wondering how the departure of luis enrique from roma would affect milan's pursuing of montella. Any thoughts? can u thing of any alternatives for milan?

Posted by Sal on 05/11/2012

I am pretty upset about this. Maldini (who I feel is closest as a player to Nesta) left on top. I'm not trying to knock the MLS but it breaks my heart seeing him go there because I feel like its a retirement home for good players. He can go on for AT LEAST a couple more years. Maldini was what 42?!?!? MLS really?

I feel like this season is the beginning of the end of Milan.. actually make that last season. UNLESS they bring in some big names. Yes, plural.. big namesss. Ibra, Boa, and Silva can't make up for the lack of skill the others show. And Boateng isn't that great but who else in mid field??? Aquilani???

We need help....

Posted by Pagliuca on 05/11/2012

Adio Nesta! He will always be a legend for Milan. All the best to one of the best defenders of all time.

Posted by Sal on 05/11/2012

I am pretty upset about this. Maldini (who I feel is closest as a player to Nesta) left on top. I'm not trying to knock the MLS but it breaks my heart seeing him go there because I feel like its a retirement home for good players. He can go on for AT LEAST a couple more years. Maldini was what 42?!?!? MLS really?

I feel like this season is the beginning of the end of Milan.. actually make that last season. UNLESS they bring in some big names. Yes, plural.. big namesss. Ibra, Boa, and Silva can't make up for the lack of skill the others show. And Boateng isn't that great but who else in mid field??? Aquilani???

We need help....

Posted by wcsg on 05/11/2012

Nesta, Pippo, Gattuso and Seedorf to play their last game for the Rossoneri on Sunday. It will be hard to watch. Arrivederci e grazie ragazzi.

Posted by Muntazir on 05/12/2012

Alessandro Nesta was AC Milans symbol. The absence of San Paolo is still felt, and now Sandro' absence will make it much harder. I just hope AC Milan, and Italian football in general, are able to replace such players.

Posted by haykay on 05/12/2012

Hearts get broken, you just have to move on..

Posted by Naz on 05/12/2012

A class act indeed. His performances for Italy during Euro 2000 is stuff of legends. Thank you for the memories, Nesta!

Posted by punditguy on 05/12/2012

Wonderful article Matteo!

We all know it was comin but it shocked me that it was THIS season and not next! I think he had 2 years left in his legs again. He may not play every game but he could have pulled off the important matches. I really expected Inzaghi, Rino and Seedrof to make exits this season but not Nesta. So in this way it hurts even more.

At least we had the opportunity to see a player or players of such caliber in our life time in the Milan colors! I am proud of them and what they have given us. The joy they brought to our hearts. We can now look back at their time with Milan with out regret and we can tell stories to our kids of the legendary Alessandro Nesta! We saw him play in our time. It makes me sad to look to the future now. It doesnt seem to bright. Who can we aquire to replace such quality as Nesta? A perfect defender. Who can match his elegance and grace who made football and defending look like an art!

Posted by punditguy on 05/12/2012

Nesta will darely be missed but he will forever be in my heart and in my memory!

Ciao Nesta.

Posted by marco on 05/13/2012

Damn... this is an extremely sad day for me who is only accustomed to seeing Pippo, Seedorf, Gattuso, and Nesta in the side because I'm a teenage. A major overhaul seems imminent and I really hope Ibra and Thiago don't leave us or else we will be doomed... I hate seeing Berlusconi only taking players on Bosman. Matteo what direction do you think Milan will go during the transfer window? I heard if Thiago leaves we will acquire Pique + 15 mil which isn't as bad as it seems but damn..

Posted by kenneth on 05/13/2012

Man im so glad them oldies are leaving, they suck so bad especially nesta that slow ano old ass defender, compared to bonera hes a bag doritos..


Posted by Sal on 05/14/2012

kenneth... I wish I knew you personally so I could say this to your face...

COMPARED TO BONERA?!?! I mean you literally could have picked ANYONE else and you wouldn't have looked as stupid! Bonera is so washed up its not even funny! We have one of the best CB's in the world in Silva, we have two ok backs with Abate and Antoninni, and hopefully a good defender in Mexes... and you pick BONERA to compare a world class legend like Nesta!! you're an idiot.

P.S. Never post again you bum, thanks


Posted by milanforever on 05/15/2012

haha kenneth, you are an asshole...well played sir, well played.

Posted by Milan 1963 on 05/16/2012

As a central defender myself, I believe Nesta is up there on top with the likes of Baresi and Beckenbauer in the pantheon of the greatest of all time, considering that Maldini was a left back rather than center half.

It will be tough to replace him, but i too hope that we will get Ogbonna from Torino who seems the most likely to become a future great.

That last game where Ale, Pippo, Rino, Zambro and maybe Seedorf played their last game with our colors was very emotional and I must admit I shed some tears....especially when Pippo scored that wonderful goal. it made me jump off my sofa like if we had won the Champions League.

Good luck to those guys who made the History of our legendary Milan.

Now it is time to turn a new page in our history and look at the future with hope and excitement until the transfer season is over.

Posted by Pagliuca on 05/18/2012

Interista/Gobbi actually it dosen't matter Kenneth..I agree with Sal and Milanoforever..of all you the people you picked--BONERA?? HAHAHAH (take a breath) HAHAHAHAH! The most inconsistant player in our squad and you said he's "bag of dorritos" to Nesta???? Nesta one of the all time greats in defending!! And you compared him to Bonera. Makes as much sense as saying a Toyota will outclass a Ferrari any day. LOL!! I love how all the Interisti and Gobbis try to troll the forum. Hilarious!

Posted by Debashis Kundu on 05/19/2012

Nesta-Gattuso-Seedorf-Inzaghi....A generation ended....A style ended....A decade past......but the legends will remain in our heart....All D Best for your future. But I hope that the story will not end here. Engage yourselves with Milan Boards and give your valuable advises and build another legendary generation of MILAN.

Posted by ezuteh alex on 06/08/2012

Nesta is indeed a MITO. I can't describe him both in and out of the field. not much noise fron him .

fine footballer and a very hansome guy

Posted by Jordan on 06/13/2012

i still remember the season where milan is trying to sign a world class defender. fabio cannavaro was so gona be ours till INTER snatched the signing. i was depressed for a while till milan decided to splash more cash for nesta! sweet memories and wat a deal that is, nesta had played well for us and i really wished all the best for him.

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Matteo Bonetti Born and raised just a few kilometers away from The San Siro, Matteo Bonetti has been watching the Rossoneri ever since childhood. The passion was instilled by a family whose fanaticism for the team dates back to the early 1900's. Instead of bursting with an obscenity laden tirade, or turning any object around him into a projectile weapon after a disappointing Milan outing, Matteo can now channel his emotions into a more effective, and most importantly: safe, manner - writing on a global platform. He is a young journalist whose grandfather was the Vice President of Milan nearly four decades ago. E-mail him:, and follow him on twitter: @TheMilanGuy

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