Nemanja Vidic didn’t feature in the lists of Europe’s most talented footballers in his younger years, but his character and character have made him one of the best defenders in football history. Recall his career.
Born in Yugoslavia in 1981, he started football in his hometown. He joined the club, which already had a professional background and level by Serbian standards, at the age of 12. The club was Sloboda Užice. At 15, however, he headed to a much more prestigious address.
He was recruited into the youth system by Crvena Zvezda Belgrade, one of the biggest clubs in Eastern Europe. However, Nemanja Vidic made his debut among adults during a guest stint at Spartak Subotica. After the season he returned and took his place in the starting line-up of Crvena Zvezda.
He also became captain relatively quickly, led the team to a domestic double and went on to better things in 2004. He was bought out by Spartak Moscow for just under €4.5 million. At the time, it was said that Vidic had become the most expensive defender to come to the Russian league.
Also in the Spartak jersey, the Serbian stopper quickly established himself. His quality performances did not escape the scouts of Manchester United and in January 2006 Vidic was introduced as a new reinforcement of the Red Devils. The English giant bought him for a now ridiculous 10.5 million euros.
It is worth mentioning that Vidic’s future partner Rio Ferdinand, for example, arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2002 for 46 million euros. He was three years younger than Vidic at the time of the transfer and became the most expensive British player at the time.
Ferguson knew from the start what he was getting with Vidic
When Sir Alex Ferguson could introduce Nemanja Vidic as a new addition to his squad, he did not hide his satisfaction. “He’s a quick and aggressive central defender and will be a great addition to the team. Good defenders win you trophies. He is tidy and athletic at the same time. You need great defenders and that’s exactly what he is,” he commented on the new signing to MUTV at the time.
Acclimatisation? Vidic practically didn’t need it. He wasn’t even on the bench for two games after his arrival, but then he quickly broke into the starting line-up and when he was healthy, there was nothing to worry about. A now legendary defensive team was formed, which was one of the best not only in its time.
On the left, Patrice Evra was grinding the line, Ferdinand and Vidic were rampaging on the traces, only the right side had stability problems during Vidic’s engagement as the end of Gary Neville was approaching. It was the defensive line that was one of the factors in the success of the Ferguson era.
When Vidic and Ferdinand were healthy and both playing at their peak, it was customary for Manchester United not to score over 30 goals in the league. Indeed, both shone in Europe too. After all, with them the Red Devils were Champions League winners in 2008 and reached the final twice more, where they fell to Barcelona.
Vidic was known for his toughness, his focus. He was as good at giving as he was at taking. His dedication was often extreme. He had no problem sticking his head in anywhere when he couldn’t stop an opponent’s shot or a breakaway. Playing against him? A nightmare.
Plus, the Serbian tough guy didn’t always play by the rules. He could torment his opponent with jersey pulls or other means. He could get into your head in a way that even the referee didn’t notice. He would do anything for his team. That’s why he became captain in 2010.
However, it’s worth mentioning that if Vidic had any opponent he definitely couldn’t face, it was Fernando Torres back in a Liverpool jersey. After all, he did carp at him twice in one season. In total, he picked up five red cards in the Premier League and three of them were against the Reds.
Vidic failed to return to the top after a serious knee injury
Nemanja Vidic spent just under nine seasons at Old Trafford. He left an indelible mark on the club. He enjoyed five times winning the league title, seven times dominating the FA Community Shield with his team, three times dominating the League Cup and once the Champions League and Club World Cup.
He played 300 competitive games for Manchester United, scoring 21 goals and 4 assists. Not bad numbers at all for a stopper. He is one of the few players to have twice been the best player of an entire Premier League season.
Besides, Vidic boasts a phenomenal statistic, having kept a clean sheet 95 times during 211 starts in the Premier League with the Red Devils.
And it could have been better. But Vidic’s decline began sooner than expected. His entire career was changed by a serious knee injury in a Champions League match against Swiss side Basel in the 2011/12 season.
Vidic was unable to return to his best level. Then in 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson ended his phenomenal career and although the Serbian stopper could and should have been one of the men to help the club usher in a new era, it didn’t happen.
In the summer of 2014 Vidic left for Inter Milan on a free transfer. He was supposed to be a huge boost, only for injuries to once again prevent him from getting into top form. In January 2016, his contract was terminated and the Serbian eventually retired from his professional career at the age of 34.
In 2019, however, he dominated the Sky Sports fan polls for the best defender in Premier League history. He beat the likes of Rio Ferdinand on his way to the final, beating Virgil Van Dijk by a decent margin with the fans.
Source: Manchester United, Premier League, Transfermarkt, Twitter
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