Goal of the Day: V is for... Vidic
Our A-Z Goal of the Day series continues with the letter 'V', which is represented by former Manchester United centre-back Nemanja Vidic.
Nemanja’s powerful effort in that top-of-the-table clash helped Sir Alex Ferguson’s men edge out the Blues, and moved United to within a point of gaining our 19th league title…
Vidic signed for the Reds in January 2006 – the same month that his long-term defensive partner Patrice Evra joined United. Our former no.15 departed from Russian side Spartak Moscow and made his debut a few weeks later in a League Cup semi-final second-leg triumph over Blackburn Rovers. The following month, Nemanja also played in our 4-0 victory against Wigan Athletic in the final of the competition, the first of his 15 winner’s medals as a Red.
Nemanja’s United career became synonymous with big tackles, physicality and leading by example. The 2008/09 campaign typified this, when the defender was voted the Premier League Player of the Season and made the FIFA FIFPro World XI, while guiding United to silverware in the Premier League, League Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. It was in another clash against Chelsea that Vidic put in perhaps his best performance of that season, when he kept Drogba, Lampard and co quiet in our January encounter. The big man even popped up with our opening goal in this tussle.
During his stint at Old Trafford, Nemanja established himself as one of the best centre-backs in the world. Alongside Rio Ferdinand, the no-nonsense Serbian was half of what is widely regarded as the best defensive partnership in Premier League history, one that helped guide the Reds to a record 14 consecutive clean sheets in the top flight. In his time in Manchester, Vidic won five league titles, three League Cups and the Champions League in 2008. He was also voted Premier League Player of the Season twice and made the PFA Team of the Year on four occasions. In 2014, after a 3-1 victory over Hull City, the fans’ favourite received a standing ovation from the Old Trafford faithful to mark his final-ever appearance at the Theatre of Dreams.
The Serbian next moved to Italian outfit Internazionale and actually made his debut in a pre-season friendly against United. Nemanja became a permanent fixture in the Inter side during the first half of the 2014/15 season, before injury blighted the second part of the campaign. Those problems continued to affect the United legend into the following term and, in January 2016, with Nemanja unable to fully regain in his fitness, he announced his retirement from professional football.
WHAT THEY SAID
“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.” (Sir Alex Ferguson)
“He became a defender that was feared. He could fight with the most physical, he crunched into tackles, he attacked the ball better than anyone I’ve ever seen. But as he will tell you with a smile, he could also play with the ball too, which made him complete and a great defender.” (Rio Ferdinand)
“As a defender he makes the full-backs, the goalkeeper and the midfielders in front of him all feel secure. He is a player you can depend on and put your trust in, and that’s important.” (Sir Bobby Charlton)
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