Soccer

Nesta looks forward to retirement from Impact

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The Canadian Press
11/6/2013 7:26:57 PM
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MONTREAL -- Italian soccer great Alessandro Nesta didn't need to be dragged away from the soccer pitch.

The 37-year-old defender officially retired after the Montreal Impact was eliminated from the Major League Soccer playoffs, although he missed the 3-0 loss in Houston last week with an injury.

Joining his teammates at a season-ending news conference on Wednesday was perhaps his last act as a player.

"I'm very happy because my body is tired," said Nesta. "I think it's time to finish.

"Twenty years at a high level -- I was lucky. I won a lot of trophies. And this is the perfect time to say 'stop.' I'll start a new life with my family, another job. I don't know."

Nesta got a standing ovation as he was feted before the Impact's final home game of the season Oct. 19. He left late in the 2-1 win over Philadelphia with a calf injury. He had earlier announced that the 2013 campaign would be his last.

He will move to his house in Miami and hopes to become a coach one day, although he denied a report that he would replace Marco Schallibaum as the Impact's bench boss.

The Rome native, a boyhood friend of Montreal striker Marco Di Vaio, joined the Impact on July 5, 2012 on a free transfer after a decade with Italian giant AC Milan.

He joined Lazio's youth academy in 1985 and began his pro career with the Roman club, but went to AC Milan on a 30-million Euro transfer in 2002. He won the first of two Champions League titles that season.

He played 78 times for Italy and was part of the 2006 World Cup champions, although he didn't play beyond the group stage due to an injury.

Nesta was named to the EUFA team of the year, an all-star team for European players, four times, and was considered by many as the best defender of his generation.

Asked about his experience in MLS, Nesta said it still needs work to be a top league.

"For me, the problem in this league is we have to improve tactically," he said. "Every team.

"In Europe, you work every day on tactics, and when you play you feel better sometimes. Here the (Swiss) coach Schallibaum did good work. We have to go in this direction. That's my opinion."

Alessandro Nesta (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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