‘We Miss you NESTA.... We Miss you GATTUSO’ - Words of every Milan fan this summer.
Milan legends with the names of Gennaro Gattuso, Clarance Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi had left the club last May after enjoying a long successful spells at San Siro. After spending one and a half year at San Siro, 35-year old Mark Van Bommel rejected to extend his contract with the Italian giants and joined his home club, PSV. On the other hand, captain Ambrosini is offered a contract extension for one more year. This is the time for the president, Berlusconi to work on the re-establishment of the club with fresh signings. Though the departure of the big names is considered as a blow to some extent, the inclusion of talented youngsters in the side will certainly keep them as a strong contender for the Serie A and the Champions league titles. The inclusion of the free agent, Montolivo and Nancy midfielder, Traore are the noticeable positive moves by Milan in this summer so far. Keeping the rehabilitation work aside, let us go through the tale of Nesta and Gattuso here.
Nesta was born at Rome on 18 March 1976. At the age of just 6, Nesta has started to play football. As Nesta’s father being a football fan, his idea of becoming a footballer was highly appreciated.
Though Nesta’s talent was first identified by Roman management, Nesta joined the youth academy of Lazio in 1985 as his father insisted him to join Biancocelestis as being the fan of the club. During the youth career at Lazio, Nesta played in various positions including as striker and as midfielder before settling in the defense. Nesta represented his country in under-15, under-16 and under-21 squads. He made his first senior appearance for the club in 1993, at the age of 17. He was named as the captain for the club for 1997-1998 season and during his first season as captain, Nesta won the Coppa Italia; Nesta scored the winner for Lazio in the final against Milan. Then, Nesta led his club to win the UEFA Cup and European Super cup in the second season as captain. Once again in 2000, Nesta’s Lazio won the Coppa Italia and the rare Serie A title.
Due to financial crisis of the club, Lazio sold Nesta to Milan for the fee of €30.987 million. Nesta had played crucial role at the heart of the defense for Milan in the past 10 years. Nesta won the champions league with Milan in his first season at San Siro. In his first two seasons at Milan, Nesta had won all the credits that a perfect footballer to possess-winning Champions league, UEFA Super cup, Serie A title Coppa Italia and club world cup. After enjoying four successful years at Milan, Nesta was called up for the World cup 2006 squad of Italy by Lippi. Nesta missed most of 2006-2007 season, due to injuries. But, after being completely fit, Nesta played a crucial role in defense in Champions league final, in which Milan took revenge on Liverpool to win the Champions league title. In the summer of 2007, Nesta’s contract was extended up to the summer of 2011. Once again, Nesta picked up an injury in the pre-season of 2008 and he missed almost the entire season. But, Nesta came back strongly in the next season and remained as the first choice centre-back for the new coach, Leonardo. At the time of the end of 2009-2010 season, Lippi insisted Nesta to join the Italy squad for 2010 World cup; but Nesta refused to do so. After enjoying the spectacular 10 years at Milan, in the summer of 2012, Nesta came up with the decision to leave the club. Nesta was signed by MLS side, Montreal last month
Nesta was called up for the Italian Squad for Euros ’96, at the age of 19, but he didn’t come out off the bench in the tournament. Nesta earned his first cap for his country in October, 1996 against Maldova in world cup ’98 qualifiers. Nesta was called up for world cup 1998 squad and he appeared for all the group game matches for Italy. But owing to an injury, Nesta missed the remaining games of the tournament. Nesta appeared in Euro 2000, partnering Maldini and Cannavaro in the defense throughout the tournament as Italy finished as runner-ups. After the 2000 Euros, Nesta became the regular starter for Italy under new coach, Trapattoni. Two years later, Nesta featured in 2002 world cup as the first choice centre-back ahead of Maldini, where he partnered Cannavaro. Nesta played the entire 90 minutes of all the group stage matches in the competition; but he missed the round of 16 game against South Korea due to an injury, in which Italy lost 2-1 to the co-host at extra-time. Nesta played the entire Euro 2004, in which Italy was eliminated in the group stage itself. Once again, after playing all the group stage matches of world cup 2006, due to an injury, he missed the remaining part of tournament, in which Italy went on to win their first world cup in 24 years. Nesta announced his retirement from the Italy job in 2006 and he turned down the call-ups for Euro 2008 and world cup 2010.
Nesta playing style includes stretching both of his legs to coincide with earth with a gap in between them to allow the ball to get in the gap(almost a sitting position). Due to injuries to Thiago Silva and Mario Yepes, Nesta played both the league of quarter-finals of 2011-2012 champions league against Barcelona. The way he tackled Messi was quite amazing. In the first leg at San Siro, the match was ended in a goalless draw. Nesta played a crucial role in the return leg at Nou Camp. But the controversial penalty awarded for his tackle against Busquets inside the penalty box, took away the Milan hopes of reaching the next stage of the tournament.
Gattuso was born at Corigliano Calabro on 9 January 1978. Gattuso started his career with Perugia. At the age of 19, in the summer of 1997, Gattuso was signed by Scottish giants, Rangers. But after enjoying just only one season at Scotland, Gattuso was sold to the promoted Serie A side, Salernitana in the summer of 1998. After putting up an inspirational performance with Salernitana jersey, Gattuso was signed by Milan for the reported fee of €8 million in June, 1999 in a 4-year deal. After joining the club at the age of 21, Gattuso spent 13 years at San Siro.
Even Mussolini was not considered as the Iron Man of Italy, but Italians named Gattuso as so. Gattuso was known for his excellent tackles. After getting signed to Milan from Salernitana, Gattuso partnered with Ambrosini in the deep of the midfield and gave up many influential performances. In the summer of 2001, Carlo Ancelotti joined Milan as the head coach from the arch rivals, Juventus. The first signing of Ancelotti was Andrea Pirlo from Inter Milan for the fee of around €18 million. After the inclusion of Pirlo, Gatuso became the regular starter for the club in the deep of the midfield behind Pirlo, who was given the play-maker role. Pirlo-Gattuso pair was really working well for Milan and by this time, Gattuso was called up for the world cup 2002 squad to represent Italy. After returning from world cup, as being a regular starter along with Ambrosini and Pirlo, Gattuso played a crucial role in the midfield which helped Milan to win the Champions league and Coppa Italia in 2003 and Serie A title in 2004.
Gattuso featured in for Italy in Euro 2004, but once again being a bench warmer. But, in the world cup 2006, Gattuso was given the pivotal role to play in the deep of the midfield behind Pirlo. Gattuso started all the games for Italy in world cup 2006. And after this world cup, he was awarded with the name, ‘Iron Man’. After the return, one more successful year awaited for Gattuso, where he won the champions league with Milan for the second time in 2007. Milan had beaten Liverpool, 2-1 in the final. And Gattuso was called up for Euro 2008. After his return from Euros 2008, Gattuso didn’t find the nets for almost three years. He broke his 3-year goal drought by scoring with his left-foot near the edge of the let side of the box against Juventus in March, 2011. And in that season, Milan went on to win its first Scudetto in 8 years. On May 11, 2012, Gattuso announced he would be leaving the club next season. In June 2012, it was announced that Swiss club Sion had signed Gattuso.
Gattuso plays in the position of defensive midfield. He will often run forward to win the ball. After winning the ball, he will return to his original defensive position. For his tackling abilities, Gattuso earned the nick name of ‘Ringhio’.
Gattuso was also widely known for his temper. Here are some incidents, where he totally busted his temper. In the group stage match of 2003-2004 champions league against Ajax, Gattuso slapped Ibrahimovic in the second half and he was sent off.
In a champions league, group stage clash against Schalke in 2005-2006, Gattuso was found taunting Denmarrk’s midfielder, Cristian Poulsen. In February 2011, in champions leg, round of 16 clash against Tottenham Hotspur, after exchanging the words with Tottenham coach Joe Jordan, he pushed him by the throat.
Gattuso had appeared for 73 times for his nation and scored only one goal in a friendly match against England in the winter of 2000, after making his debut in February 2000. He was called up to represent his nation in world cup 2002 and Euros 2004. But at both of the times, Gattuso remained as bench warmer. Gattuso featured for Italy in world cup 2006, where he played the pivotal role in the defensive midfield. Gattuso and his Milan team-mate Pirlo formulated partnership in the heart of the midfield and provided considerably appreciable performances in helping Italy to win the first world cup in 24 years. Gattuso appeared in Euros 2008, where Italy was eliminated in the first knock out stage by Spain in penalty shoot-outs. Pirlo and Gattuso were suspended for that quarter-final clash, as a result of acquiring two yellow cards in the group stages. Gattuso was included in Lippi’s 23-men Italy squad for the world cup 2010. Remaining in bench for the first two games of Italy, Gattuso started his first game of the tournament in the crucial encounter against Slovakia. Though Gattuso provided a good performance in that match, Italy lost 2-3 to Slovakia and was eliminated in the group stage itself.
Being known for class, memories left by Nesta and Gattuso at San Siro were unforgettable and irreplaceable. Milan fans will be getting severely wound because of their departures. As myself being a Milan, with tears in my eyes, I conclude by saying let us hope and wish their future to remain good.