Alessandro Nesta's tackle on Lionel Messi was so perfect that PSG star even smiled | OneFootball
Alessandro Nesta's tackle on Lionel Messi was so perfect that PSG star even smiled
Alessandro Nesta is widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders in history.
The 45-year-old was an absolute rock at the back for Lazio, AC Milan and the Italian national team throughout the course of his career.
Nesta was the perfect modern day centre-back, a Rolls-Royce of a player who excelled with the ball at his feet and possessed the passing range of a world-class midfielder.
But arguably Nesta's greatest strength was his tackling ability.
The elegant centre-back's challenges were often a thing of beauty and countless world-class attackers were nullified by the World Cup winner's pragmatic excellence.
That includes the great Lionel Messi...
In September 2011, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner came face-to-face with a 35-year-old Nesta in a Champions League group game between Barcelona and Milan at Camp Nou, which finished 2-2 thanks to a late equaliser from Thiago Silva.
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During the second half of the match, Messi drove into the opposition's box and looked certain to ripple the back of the net.
However, Nesta marshalled the diminutive Argentine expertly, before producing the most perfect tackle possible to bring a halt to the attack.
The Milan legend's intervention was so clean and well-timed that Messi himself couldn't help but a crack a smile shortly after.
His pace had deserted him by the time he rocked up in Catalonia that September evening, but Nesta still had more than enough about him to stop arguably the greatest player ever in their prime.
What a footballer.
It certainly wasn't all plain sailing for Nesta when he faced Messi, though.
In a recent interview, the Italian icon stated that the Paris Saint-Germain superstar "mentally destroyed" him during one of their Champions League encounters.
"In the tenth minute I kicked Messi and fell to the ground exhausted, I could see the stars," Nesta told Calciatori Brutti, per Sport.
"He was already giving me his hand to pull me up. There he mentally destroyed me.
"Do you understand? I was on the ground and when after two seconds I open my eyes, I see his face with his hand in front that he wanted to help me get up. He mentally destroyed me there."
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