It was 5 January 2006 when Manchester United confirmed signing of Nemanja Vidic. It was a player joining from Russian side Spartak Moscow, aged 24. Not many people knew who he was, but he went on to become one of the greatest centre-backs in Manchester United history.
Vidic went on to become five time Premier League champions, a Champions League and Club World Cup winner, alongside the two Premier League Player of the Season awards. He also became only the second non-British captain of Manchester United, first after Eric Cantona. Sir Alex Ferguson obviously had a lot of faith in Serbian defender. Here are the best quotes on Nemanja Vidic, made by his team-mates and other former footballers.
Ryan Giggs – Nemanja Vidic Is The Best Defender
“I say farewell to probably the best defender I have ever played with: Nemanja Vidic”, said Giggs back in 2014 when former Red Star captain played his final match at Old Trafford.
“Jaap Stam and Rio Ferdinand fall into the mix as well when I consider that statement, but Nemanja has been an immense player for United for so many years and he has enjoyed great success as well.”
Paul Scholes – There Was Nothing Of Him
“It might surprise you to hear that Nemanja, who arrived from Spartak Moscow, was not the powerful centre-back he became over his years with the club. There was nothing of him when he arrived. He was skinny and relatively easy to push off the ball. He took a battering in his first few weeks at the club”, said Scholes on one occasion.
“Nemanja must have realised quite early on that he was not strong enough to play in the centre of defence at that time, so he did something about it. For the next year, every time I walked past the gym, I would see Nemanja in there lifting weights.”
Jamie Carragher – My Type Of Defender
“My type of defender. Liverpool tried to buy him in January 2006, but our loss was United’s gain”, said the former Liverpool player.
“I’d have loved to have played alongside him and I’m sure we could have formed a solid partnership. He loves defending and putting his head in where it hurts.”
Robin van Persie – One Of My Best Friends
“At corners I’m always helping the defenders and he’s always close to me. I’ve seen him, time after time, diving with his head forward to block a ball. When I’m witnessing that, I’m scared for him. That is Nemanja. It’s unbelievable. I count him as one of my best friends”, said the former Manchester United and Arsenal striker few months ago.
Gary Neville – In My Best XI
“Vidic has to be in [Neville’s best Manchester United team]. That’s non-negotiable. How he didn’t win Player of the Year in 2010-11 is beyond me. He was easily the most consistent, influential player in the league.” When Gary says that, it really speaks a lot.
Sir Alex Ferguson – He Loved It
“How many centre-halves can you name who actually like defending? Vidic liked it. He loved the challenge of sticking his head in there. You could tell that the thrill of contesting those 50-50 balls animated him”, said the legendary manager about Vidic.