top of page
  • Writer's pictureDag Jenkins

Alessandro Nesta

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Alessandro Nesta one of the greatest defenders ever to wear the Lazio jersey.


Official SS Lazio photo

Alessandro Nesta was born in Rome, on March 19, 1976. He is from the area of Cinecittà in south-east Rome and from a family of Lazio fans.


Nesta started his career in the Lazio youth sector. He was actually first noticed by Roma scout and former player Francesco Rocca but Nesta’s father, being a big Lazio fan, refused the Giallorossi's offer.


So in 1985 he started playing for the Biancoceleste side of town's youth teams. He played in various roles including attack and midfield before settling in defence. He always played with shirt number 13. In 1994 -95 he won the Primavera (U-19's) Scudetto under Mimmo Caso but was also already part of the first team squad.


He had started being involved in the first team set up in the 1993-94 season and manager Dino Zoff gave him his debut on March 18, 1994 in an away game versus Udinese. Nesta was not yet 18 when he replaced Pierluigi Casiraghi in the 78th minute. He played one more game that season as he was still very much involved in the Primavera league.


His home debut came on January 15,1995 in Lazio vs Foggia when he replaced Beppe Favalli after 29 minutes. I was at that game and he impressed immediately. With some sportsmen you can just see, even at a very early age, that they have something special. I remember the same with tennis players Pete Sampras and Novak Djokovic.


Nesta played 11 league games and 1 in Coppa Italia and Lazio had a good season under new manager Zdenek Zeman finishing 2nd. Nesta won his first derby as a protagonist, playing the whole game in a 2-0 win (April 23, Casiraghi, Beppe Signori). On that occasion Lazio had three fans on the field (Nesta, Cristiano Bergodi, Marco Di Vaio) and one on the bench (Nando Orsi).


The 1995-96 season saw Nesta become a first choice defender at Lazio. He played 23 league games, 2 in Coppa Italia and made his debut in European competitions with 3 games in the UEFA Cup. Lazio finished 3rd in the league again under Zeman. Lazio drew one derby and won the other (1-0 Signori).


In 1996-97, in January Zeman was replaced by Zoff. Nesta had an excellent season with 25 league games, 4 in Coppa Italia and 4 in the Uefa Cup. Both derbies were draws. Lazio finished 4th.


The following year with the arrival of new manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and Roberto Mancini, Lazio went from a highly competitive and entertaining team to a winning one. Nesta played 30 league games, 9 in Coppa Italia (with 1 goal) and 10 in the Uefa Cup (1 goal vs Vitória Guimarāes). Nesta's Coppa Italia goal was no ordinary one, it was the winner in a 3-2 aggregate win over Milan in the final. Nesta scored in a wild Olimpico to give his boyhood club their first trophy for 24 years and first domestic cup for 40 years. Lazio also won a record 4 derbies that year (4-1 and 2-1 in the cup and 3-1 and 2-0 in the league). They arrived in their first European final but were mentally and physically worn out losing to Ronaldo's Inter 3-0 in Paris. In the league they collapsed near the end after challenging for the title until April and arrived 7th.


In the summer of 1998, at the World Cup in France, Nesta unfortunately suffered a serious injury while playing for Italy. He ruptured his cruciate ligaments and was forced to be out for the next seven months.


In the 1998-99 season he returned in December. He was not at his best but in time he got back his physical prowess. He played 20 league games with 1 goal (Salernitana), 2 in Coppa Italia and 4 in the old European Cup. Lazio went agonizingly close to the Scudetto, getting pipped by Milan by one point, also due to very dubious refereeing decisions in the penultimate game in Florence. The Biancocelesti however triumphed in Europe, winning the last ever edition of the Cup Winners Cup against Mallorca 2-1 in Birmingham. Nesta lifted the cup in front of 15,000 Lazio fans at Villa Park.


The 1999-2000 was the apotheosis of that Lazio squad. In August they won the European Super Cup beating Manchester United 1-0 in Monte Carlo. The "Aquile" then won the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia, completing a historic double. Nesta played 28 league games, 2 in Coppa Italia, 9 in the Champions League plus the European Super Cup Final. Nesta was obviously the pillar of Lazio's defence, pairing up with Sinisa Mihajlovic, Paolo Negro or sometimes Fernando Couto in the middle. In the Champions league Lazio reached the quarterfinal but were eliminated by a "high" flying Valencia 5-3.


The next season started well winning the Italian Supercoppa against Inter 4-3 but then was not as successful. Eriksson left in January after some poor results and having signed a contract for the England national team from July 2001. Dino Zoff came back to the bench and Lazio challenged for the title but ultimately fell short arriving third behind Juventus and champions Roma. In the Champions league Lazio reached the second group stage. Nesta had his usual excellent season playing 29 league games, 1 in Coppa Italia, 8 in Champions League plus the Italian Supercoppa.


In 2001-02 was even more troubled. Zoff was sacked after three games and Alberto Zaccheroni arrived. The relationship with Lazio never really took off and the season was mediocre. Lazio in the end salvaged their year in the famous last match against Inter. A 4-2 victory qualified Lazio for the UEFA Cup in 6th place but shattered Inter's Scudetto hopes. Nesta played 25 league games, 1 in Coppa Italia and 6 in the Champions League.


By now Lazio were in financial difficulty and forced to sell off some of their stars. All summer Lazio fans lived with the terror that Nesta would be sold. That day came on the last day of the market on 31 August 2002. He went for 31 million Euros, nowhere near his real value but Lazio were desperate and the big northern teams took advantage. A trauma for Lazio fans that they have not got over to this day. Nesta was our pride and joy, our dream and Nesta's was for him to play his whole career in Rome. Alas it was not to be and he very reluctantly went up to Milan. His last gesture was to convert some of his wages into Lazio shares to take some pressure off Lazio's coffers.


He obviously did well in Milan. He stayed ten seasons, playing alongside Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Alessandro Costacurta and Jaap Stam amongst others. He won everything there was to win; 2 Scudetti (2004, 2011), 2 Champions Leagues (2003, 2007), 1 Coppa Italia (2003), 2 Italian Supercoppe (2004, 2011), 2 UEFA Super Cups (2003, 2007) and 1 World Cup for Clubs against Boca Juniors where he also scored in the final (2007). He played 326 games with 10 goals for the Rossoneri, so certainly has legendary status there too.


Added to what he had already won at Lazio this surely makes him one of the players in history who won the most diverse competitions (the only ones eluding him being the European Championship and UEFA Cup - he was runner-up in both).


In 2012 at 36 he went to Canada, to Montreal Impact in the Major League. Here he teamed up with former Lazio Bernardo Corradi and Di Vaio and won the league title. He played 34 games for "Le CFM".


In November 2014 he joined Chennaiyn in the Indian Super League. The team was coached by former Italy teammate (and Lazio fan) Marco Materazzi but the adventure only lasted 3 games before Nesta decided to retire, putting an end to a fantastic and glorious career.


At international level he won 78 caps for Italy. He played in 3 European Championships (Runners up in 2000) and 3 World Cups (Winners in 2006). He was unlucky at World Cups, breaking his leg in 1998 and missing the last 5 games of the "Azzurri's" triumph in 2006 in Germany through injury. He also earned 6 U-21 caps with 1 goal and won the European Championship in 1996.


Since retiring he has become a manager and had spells at Miami FC plus Perugia and Frosinone in Italian Serie B. He is currently head coach of Reggiana.



Nesta was an incredible player, one of the best defenders in the history of football. He was nicknamed "La Tempesta Perfetta" (The Perfect Storm) as he was such a complete player. He was physically strong (1.87 for 80 kilos), athletic and fast. He had a great sense of position and was an impressive man-to-man marker, often using his anticipation skills to dispossess opponents, that failing he had his speed to fall back on (one of the few players he often suffered against strangely was Roma's Marco Del Vecchio). He was a superb tackler, specializing in the old sliding tackle, just like another Lazio great Pino Wilson. He could block the opposition but was also able to play from the back as a defensive playmaker. Combined with all these attributes he was elegant, a joy to watch. One runs out of adjectives to describe Nesta but the Italian " Fuoriclasse assoluto" (Totally outstanding) almost does him justice.


At Lazio, as they say in Italy, he was "Uno di noi" (One of us), a Lazio fan who played for his beloved club and led them to glory. Destiny took him elsewhere but it's as if he never really left. He did so much in his years at Lazio to last a lifetime. Their best player in 123 years of history.


At Lazio he made a total of 261 appearances (3 goals) and was captain for 4 seasons, he won; 1 Scudetto, 2 Coppa Italia, 2 Italian Supercoppa, 1 UEFA Cup winners Cup and 1 UEFA Super Cup. A legend.


Lazio Career

Season

Games (goals)

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Champions League

Cup Winners Cup

UEFA Cup

UEFA Super Cup

Super Coppa

1993-94

2

2

-

-

-

-

-

-

1994-95

12

11

1

-

-

-

-

-

1995-96

28

23

2

-

-

3

-

-

1996-97

33

25

4

-

-

4

-

-

1997-98

49 (2)

30

9 (1)

-

-

10 (1)

-

-

1998-99

26 (1)

20 (1)

2

-

4

-

-

-

1999-00

40

28

2

9

-

-

1

-

2000-01

39

29

1

8

-

-

-

1

2001-02

32

25

1

6

-

-

-

-

Total

261 (3)

193 (1)

22 (1)

23

4

17 (1)

1

1

Sources


Komentarai


Komentavimas išjungtas.
bottom of page