Nesta refuses EURO 2008 call-up

AC Milan defender Alessandro Nesta has refused to come out of international retirement to play in Italy's upcoming UEFA EURO 2008 qualifiers against France and Ukraine, the Italian Federation president Giancarlo Abete said Monday.

The 31-year-old announced his retirement from the international scene over the summer but Italy were hoping to convince him to come back after Inter Milan centre-back Marco Materazzi was ruled out of the two crunch qualifiers with a thigh injury.

"When Nesta said he no longer wanted to be a part of the squad, he acted in the right and proper way as always," Abete told Rai Uno. "He's a player who has given so much to the national team.

"Yesterday (Sunday), he clearly repeated it. But the federation, with all the attention and discretion that was needed, checked after the match in Budapest (an embarrassing 3-1 defeat to Hungary) to see if he was available."

Nesta was quoted in the Monday edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport as saying: "I told them that I will not play any more for the national team, and therefore I won't... I made a decision and I'm sticking to it."

Materazzi was injured in the Hungary match and has been ruled out of the two Group B encounters against France in Rome on September 8 and four days later against Ukraine in Kiev.

Italy coach Roberto Donadoni now finds himself with a problem in deciding who should partner Real Madrid's Fabio Cannavaro in the heart of his defence, with Palermo's Andrea Barzagli the likely choice.