Archive for August 2nd, 2007

Nesta retires from Italian national team

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

Alessandro Nesta, 31 years oldAfter Francesco Totti, another Italian great has decided to call it quits with the Azzurri. Today in a press conference at Milanello (the AC Milan training ground), Alessandro Nesta announced his retirement from the Italian national team.

“I always cared very deeply in wearing the Italian national jersey, playing for Italy is one of the most beautiful things that happened in my career. I am very sorry, but I just can’t keep playing such a high number of games” Nesta explained. “If I want to maintain a high level of performance, I need some rest”. He adds that his biggest regret is when during the last World Cup, he was forced to remain on the bench for most of the competition and watch his teammates make it all the way to the title (Nesta was injured in the 3rd group stage match vs. Czech Republic, and was forced to sit out the rest of the competition).

Personally, I don’t understand all these players that past the age of 30, decide they “can’t handle the high workload of extra games” anymore. Paolo Maldini was 34 when he retired from the Italian squad after the 2002 World Cup. At the time if I recall correctly, the reasons he outlined were to give the new generation their chance, but quite honestly I think it had more to do with post-World Cup disappointment. Now this year, Totti and Nesta decide to call it quits and they’re only 30 and 31 years old respectively… I mean what is the matter with these guys? 30 years is still a young age for a football player, especially a defender! Look at Maldini: he’s almost 39 and still kickin’ it with AC Milan (captain of the Champions League 2006-07 winning team, mind you). Nesta has got at least another 4-6 years of high level competition in him, and he decides to quit? What about those players who didn’t retire from soccer until they were 40+? Roger Milla anyone?

I understand that season schedules and training regimens nowadays can take a huge strain on your body (we are talking about 34+ league games, to which you have to add League Cup games, European Cup games, and the boatload of pre-season friendlies all big clubs seem to have during the summer lately). I have no problem believing that all of it adds up. But we are also talking about the pride of wearing the national team jersey, and representing your country! Clearly, for some players that notion lost a bit of its appeal over the years…

Gazzetta dello Sport, the most read Sports newspaper in Italy, has made a poll asking the readers what they thought of Nesta’s decision. Here are the results:

Stars nowadays only think about their own interests
49.1%
Italy coach Donadoni has seemingly been incapable of managing his team’s stars, especially on a personal level
23.3%
Nothing strange about it, the seasons have become incredibly straining and players have to take precautions for their own physical well-being
20.4%
Wearing the Italian national team jersey has lost its appeal
7.2%

 Number of voters at the moment of publication:  31,188