Most of Rio’s epic Old Trafford career to date was spent working in front of
Edwin van der Sar. In a column for ManUtd.com, the Dutchman extols the virtues of his ex-colleague…
When I first came to United, one of the things Sir Alex Ferguson said to me was that I had to organise the defence and make sure they didn't lose concentration for one second of a game. Straight away when I began working with the defenders, it was plain to see Rio's quality.
He hardly ever put a foot wrong. He was always majestic and upright - you never saw him go to ground - and his eye was always on the ball. He would either get in front of the striker and reach the ball first, or hold off and wait for exactly the right moment to get the ball from him.
When you've got a good football brain, you can see things before others and you can react quicker. You can get to the ball first, you can help a team-mate and you can prevent a lot of things. Rio is a master of that. His understanding and his commitment are second to none.
I worked with some great defenders at United, but myself, Rio and Nemanja formed a triangle that was quite solid, where each of us knew what was happening, and what any of the three of us were planning to do at any one time on the field.
I played with a lot of great defenders in my career - when I was 24 I was with Danny Blind and Frank Rijkaard at Ajax - but I would say that the triangle with Rio and Vida was the best I had. I was much older and had the experience of my