Nesta retires from national soccer team

Milan, August 1:

Alessandro Nesta quit Italy’s national soccer team today, joining Francesco Totti in retirement. “I go no further with the national team,” the AC Milan defender said. “My adventure in ‘azzurro’ finishes here.”

The 31-year-old Nesta hasn’t played for his country since injuring his right thigh in the third game of Italy’s World Cup run last year. “I’m sorry because I have always clung to this jersey, but physically, I can’t play all these games any more,” Nesta said, adding that he hoped his decision would allow him to prolong his club career.

He underwent shoulder surgery in December and returned to help Milan win the Champions League in May but opted to sit out the Azzurri’s Euro Championship qualifiers because he was getting married.

Nesta said his decision had nothing to do with Roberto Donadoni, who succeeded Marcello Lippi as Italy coach after the World Cup. “I’ve never had any problem with coaches in all my career. He was the very first to know about this decision,” Nesta said. Nesta, who started his career with Lazio in 1993, made 78 appearances for Italy from 1996. He joined Milan in 2002, recently signing a contract extension through 2011.