Nemanja Vidic will surely go down as one of Manchester United’s greatest ever defenders
Guest Author: Beci Wood
While this season has been one to forget for Manchester United fans, today should be a celebration of Nemanja Vidic’s remarkable career. After cementing himself as one of the finest ever centre-backs to play for the club and my favourite player, our captain is off on a free transfer to ply his trade in Italy for Inter Milan. If he gets picked this afternoon, the game against Southampton will be the Serb’s 300th appearance for the Red Devils. Blood, sweat and maybe even a tear in last Tuesday’s emotional farewell speech at Old Trafford, hardman Vidic has given everything to the Reds cause, winning 15 trophies in eight fantastic years.
His commanding style and battle-hardy attitude is what made him a fan favourite and a popular choice when Sir Alex Ferguson asked him to take over the captaincy in 2010. In one of his last interviews an emotional Vidic said the club will always be in his heart; and I can’t help but think we’re letting him go too soon. Manchester United have a policy of only giving older players a one year extension, but I believe Vidic reluctantly sought a new challenge as he felt he had much more in the tank.
United fans have been very unanimous in their support for Vidic on Twitter and like them, I fear the move might come back to haunt us.
I know he has suffered a few injuries this season but when fit he remains one of the top defenders in the country. His impending exit leaves the incoming manager with a huge void to fill.
Here I look at his Top 10 Manchester United moments.
Winning the Champions League in 2008 in Moscow
Vidic says the dramatic win over Chelsea in Russia is the highlight of his time at the club. While he didn’t take a penalty in the shootout finale, Vidic was at his best on a memorable night against Jose Mourinho’s side. He even got a slap off Didier Drogba for his efforts but you know who won that battle…
Record-breaking run of 14 consecutive clean sheets
Despite some initial wobbles, Vidic formed a formidable partnership with Rio Ferdinand, which became part of one of the best defences in Europe.
They registered 43 clean sheets over the course of two seasons between 2007 and 2009 with 14 consecutive clean sheets in the 2008 season. Vidic started every league game and was heralded for his heroic style.
Late winner against Sunderland
Vidic has never really been known as a goal scorer but he struck a crucial effort in the dying minutes against Sunderland during the 2008-2009 title race. With the game in extra time the Black Cats looked like they would get a share of the points at OT during a tense title run in. But Vidic ensured all three points would be United’s when he pounced on a strike by Michael Carrick that ricocheted off the post.
United then went on to win the title again.
Cracking half volley against Aston Villa
While he only scored 15 goals he’s actually deceptively good technically. The Serbian curled in a stunning shot past a helpless Brad Friedel in a 3-1 victory in February 2011 that extended an undefeated streak in the league to 29 games.
Title winning goal (well almost)
Vidic’s goal against Chelsea in the penultimate home game of the 2010/11 season left the Reds on the verge of another title. Javier Hernandez had put United ahead before Vidic headed in a Ryan Giggs cross to make it 2-0. Frank Lampard later pulled one back but Vidic’s goal left Sir Alex Ferguson’s men needing just one more point to secure the title which they duly got against Blackburn Rovers in the next game drawing 1-1.
Stellar tackle on Messi in 2011 Champions League final
Vidic has pulled off countless importance challenges but a superbly timed tackle against Lionel Messi in the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley is arguably his best. Running toe-to-toe with the best player in the world and the scoreline still at 0-0, Manchester United fans had their hearts in their mouths. But Vidic held his nerve to get perfect contact with the ball.
Unfortunately Barcelona’s relentless attacks continued as they eventually ran out 3-1 winners.
Vidic toasted a stellar season in 2009 by picking up the Barclays Player of the Season prize. He also collected both the club’s Fans’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards.
Becoming Manchester United’s club captain
Vidic was rewarded for his fine form by being named the club’s captain in 2010. His never say die attitude and headship made him a natural successor to Gary Neville. Describing the appointment as ‘a huge honour’ Vidic has led by example on the pitch, putting the effort in for every second until the final whistle.
His bravery against Swansea in Fergie’s final home game
We all know Vidic isn’t one to shy away from a tackle but he’s even prepared to head-butt the floor for the cause. In Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge at Old Trafford, Vidic flung himself in front of goal to block a shot. He failed to get contact but it sums up his desire to win at all costs.
With great humility, Vidic even afforded the honour of raising the Premier League trophy to Sir Alex Ferguson following his decision to retire from football.
Heading United ahead against Bayern Munich
Vidic gave United hope of an unlikely Champions League semi-final place with a neck-snapping header against Pep Guardiola’s men in April this year. Sadly Bastian Schweinsteiger swiftly cancelled out his effort but a 1-1 draw was celebrated like a win at Old Trafford. Unfortunately Bayern notched up a 3-1 victory in Germany, ending the Reds’ hopes in Europe.
Thanking the crowd after Hull win.
It’s not often you hear Vidic speak but when he does he really means what he says. He was warmly greeted as he took to the microphone at Old Trafford on Tuesday and said: “You’ve been fantastic to me over the years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
No thank you.