Today was a sad day for many Manchester United fans, with former captain Nemanja Vidic announcing his retirement from the game.
The former Serbia international called time on his trophy-laden, glittering career this afternoon at the age of 34, following the termination of his contract at Italian giants Inter Milan.
There’s absolutely no doubting that Vidic went on to become an all-time United great, following his arrival from Spartak Moscow in January 2006 for a scandalously low fee of just £7 million.
He won five Premier League trophies, three League Cups, the Champions League and a Club World Cup during his time in England, and formed a formidable partnership with Rio Ferdinand.
Memories are short in today’s results-driven modern football, so in case your memory needed jogging, here are five reasons why Vidic will always be a true legend in the eyes of United fans…
He was the ultimate leader
Vidic was appointed permanent captain for United in the 2010-11 season but the captain’s arm-band didn’t make a whole lot of difference to him, as he was always a staunch leader without it.
It did symbolise, though, the faith that manager Alex Ferguson had in him, and he was a man that team-mates never wanted to let down.
He was absolutely fearless
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It’s an old cliche but Vidic would genuinely put his head where most players wouldn’t put their feet. He suffered several serious injuries whilst at United, including a brutal ACL tear, but he never shied away from any sort of tackle.
We’re talking about a guy that wanted to fight in the Kosovo war!
He took no prisoners
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He was definitely one of the world’s greatest defenders on his day, but there were occasions when he would come up against the odd opponent who he’d struggle against – more often than not, Fernando Torres.
Vidic was sent off against Liverpool three times whilst at United, and if he couldn’t outplay you, he would out muscles you.
If the saying ‘he takes no prisoners’ was a man, it’d be Nemanja Vidic.
He always popped up with an important goal
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Vidic’s aerial prowess was most commonly found in his own penalty area, but his ability to snatch an important goal shouldn’t be underestimated.
A last-minute winner against Sunderland when the title race with Chelsea was neck-and-neck in 2008 springs to mind, as does a goal against Chelsea themselves in 2011, in a match at Old Trafford which effectively won United the league.
He was a man for the big occasions in the Champions League too, and weighed in with a pretty important goal against Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan during 2009’s run to the final.
His medal haul
United have had some great players in their illustrious history; some of the best to ever grace these shores.
But few have collected the medals that Vidic has, and he marshalled United’s defence during arguably their most successful-ever era.
Five Premier League titles, a Champions League medal, three League Cups and a Club World Cup are not to be sniffed at – few players in world football have a mantlepeice like that.
He played in three Champions League finals in four years during 2008 and 2011, and he was a key component in the Red Devils’ run to each and every one.
Regardless of who you support, there is no denying that modern football just lost one its greatest-ever centre-backs.
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