Thursday Jan 28, 2021  
  19/03/2015: Throwback Thursday #3: Alessandro Nesta (19 March 1976)
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He was born into a family of Lazio supporters on March 19, 1976. Young Alessandro Nesta was encouraged by his father to stay in school rather than to play football. When his older brother was diagnosed with some back problems and advised to play a sport, his father sent his older sibling to play in the youth squad of Lazio.

Young Alessandro took this opportunity to convince his father to allow him to play football as well, and after several crying sessions, his father gave in and let his 9-year old boy to follow his brother for football practice. Nesta quickly adapted to any position his coaches would play him in football, including those of a striker or playmaker. He also managed to get selected for the Italian national youth teams and being selected for the Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 squads in the following years.

When he was 17, Nesta was close to signing a contract with town-rivals AS Roma, but his father turned down the offer. His father's decision would not hinder him to become a professional footballer though, as he was quickly signed on for Lazio's first squad.

Alessandro Nesta with SS Lazio First Team

Despite not getting any games in his first season with the Lazio senior squad, Nesta came to the attention of the fans and press through a negative incident that had him breaking Paul Gascoigne's leg during a training session.

It was a blow that hurt his career as much as it threatened Gascoigne's career, but he eventually overcame the moment and soon earned a starting line-up position for Lazio. In two remarkable seasons with the club and the Under-21 Italy squad, Nesta was given captaincy of his team, becoming one of the youngest captains in Italian football.

With a team lead by Nesta, Italy's Under-21 squad managed to win the 1996 European Championship and the youngster was even named the best defender of the tournament.

His first trophy with Lazio came in the 1997-1998 season, as he lead his team on a successful Coppa Italia run, with Nesta scoring his first and last goal for Lazio, in the final against AC Milan. In the same season, Lazio were close to winning the UEFA Cup, but lost in the final to Inter Milan.

Despite losing this great opportunity to win a European trophy, Alessandro Nesta and his team didn't lose their hope and went on to write one of the most impressive chapters in Lazio's history, winning the Cup Winners' Cup and European Super Cup in 1999, and finally winning Lazio's second Scudetto in 2000 and two Italian Super Cups along the way.

The team's success was short lived, as Lazio fell almost close to bankruptcy in 2002 and they were forced to sell Alessandro Nesta to the highest bidder, which proved to be AC Milan.

Achievements with Lazio:

- Serie A (1): 2000
- Coppa Italia (2): 1998, 2000
- Supercoppa Italiana (2): 1998, 2000
- UEFA Cup Winners' Cup (1): 1998–99
- UEFA Super Cup (1): 1999

Individual Achievements:

- Serie A Young Footballer of the Year: 1998
- Serie A Defender of the Year: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003
- UEFA Club Football Awards Best Defender: 2003
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007
- UEFA Euro Team of the Tournament: 2000
- FIFPro World XI: 2007
- FIFA 100

Author: Ali Alkatiri
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