Montreal Impact's Wandrille Lefevre still dazzled after replacing childhood hero Alessandro Nesta

MONTREAL – Alessandro Nesta is not a bad model to look up to. For Montreal Impact Academy product Wandrille Lefèvre, having Nesta as that model was most fitting.

The 23-year-old Lefèvre, a midfielder by trade, made his MLS debut at center back on Saturday in Montreal's 2-0 win against Chicago when Nesta came off with an adductor injury in the 54th minute. Yet the transition looked seamless, as Lefèvre has been playing both positions since he started training with the Impact first team last year.

What's more, Lefèvre could count on Nesta to facilitate the process, as the Italian legend knows all about it.

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“Alessandro had told me that his positional history was similar to mine,” Lefèvre told reporters on Monday. “He was a midfielder at first and he played his first pro games in the middle, but for various reasons, including injuries, he moved to the back. He told me my profile could be similar. It’s up to me to develop the qualities to become a decent defender. I take up every one of his pieces of advice.”

It promptly showed on Saturday. His third-ever pass in MLS was Nesta-like in the aplomb with which it was delivered. As Andrea Pisanu cushioned it, Andrés Romero started a run towards an unsuspecting Logan Pause.

A couple hundred seconds on the field was all Lefèvre needed to pick up his first MLS assist.

“But to be honest, it’s of second importance to me in the sense that it’s not like I could have done whatever I wanted just because I’d made that assist,” Lefèvre said. “I still had to play great at the back, especially with a lead. It wasn’t the time to relax and give up a goal; we were at home, where every point is prized.”

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Pleased with Lefèvre’s outing, assistant coach Mauro Biello confirmed on Monday that the youngster’s name was in the discussions for Wednesday’s Amway Canadian Championship semifinal second leg against Toronto FC (7:30 pm ET, Sportsnet). But whatever happens next, Lefèvre has now played pro, and he’s got Nesta guiding him. No one’s ever taking that away.

“If you’d told me that two years ago, when I was still in school, doing my student stuff and thinking that my dream of playing as a professional was waning, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Lefèvre said. “And replacing Alessandro, that legend of the sporting world, was really special.”