Five years on from his arrival at Old Trafford, the Serbian centre-back has grown into a key player and leader. In an interview with Inside United, he reflects on half a decade in Red...
Back when you made your debut in January 2006 in the Carling Cup against Blackburn, did you envisage still being here in 2011 as one of the club’s most important players, and even wearing the captain's armband?
I didn’t really think too far ahead to be honest. When I came here I just wanted to play and improve – that was my main target. Everything else has just happened in time. I’m lucky though because I’m surrounded by great players and great coaches and we have great facilities at the club so all that helps you. I’m very proud to have been here for five years although I must say the time has gone very quickly. Someone sent me a photo to sign the other day from when I first joined. My hair was longer and I looked very different. I showed Pat [Evra] – he joined at the same time – and said, ‘Look Pat we’re getting old!’ Thankfully neither of us feels old. It’s just a fantastic club to be part of and as a team we’ve achieved great success in the last five years. I hope there will be more to come in the next five.
Do you have a specific highlight from your time at the club?
There have been a lot. Moscow [when we won the Champions League in 2008] was fantastic and winning the title three years in a row was very special. We play in a very competitive league and you fight for the whole season to win that trophy. It’s a great moment when you are successful.
How have you changed as a player and person since you joined?
As a person… it’s hard to say. I think I’m the same, but you’d be better to ask my family and friends. As a player, obviously I think I had to change in order to adapt to the game over here, but my mentality on the pitch has not changed. I still have the same hunger to play well, to improve and to win trophies as I’ve always had.
How have you managed to maintain such a high level of consistency in your game, season after season?
I think I arrived at the right club at the right time in my career. I was 24 when I signed and I was getting more mature. When you have great players around you who are very professional it helps you develop. I knew I had to adapt to a new club and the game here and I worked hard to improve everything about myself as