News last week that Nemanja Vidic had retired from football immediately brought a flurry of tributes from across the football world. Apart from perhaps a few corners of his homeland Serbia, it is unquestionably the red half of Manchester where he will be remembered most fondly.
The towering presence of Vidic has yet to be truly replaced at Old Trafford, where the centre-back spent nearly a decade and where he certainly played his best football. His signing in January 2006, just days before the arrival of Patrice Evra, was questioned in some quarters and few at the time could have predicted that both players would go on to have such successful spells in Manchester.
The doubts even existed within the United dressing room with Rio Ferdinand admitting following the Serb’s retirement that initial impressions of Vidic were not positive and many players doubted that he had what it took to make the grade at Old Trafford following his move from Spartak Moscow.
However the capture of Vidic for just £7 million would turn out to be a master-stroke and perhaps one of the shrewdest pieces of business during Sir Alex Ferguson’s long reign at Old Trafford.
He would form an outstanding central defensive partnership with Ferdinand as United racked up 15 trophies including five Premier Leagues and a Champions League during his 8 and a half years at the club.
Injuries would plague his last few seasons in Manchester particularly the 2011-12 campaign which saw him make just 10 appearances in all competitions, primarily down to a twisted knee in a Champions League game at Basel in December which ended his season six months early.
It is perhaps no coincidence that would prove his only trophyless season at Old Trafford under Ferguson and the Red Devils haven’t come remotely close to adding to their haul since Vidic’s departure.
His subsequent move to Inter Milan never really looked like working out, especially when he saw red and conceded a penalty on his competitive debut. With his best years behind him and following numerous injuries, the San Siro never got to see the best of Vidic and the arrival of Roberto Mancini last summer had seen him have to settle for a primarily back-up role.
It was no great surprise to see him leave Inter, but having only turned 34 in October it is still a relatively premature end to a career particularly for a centre-back. Vidic could have carried on playing in a lesser league for a lesser club, but perhaps felt he had little left to prove having achieved so much in England.
Bowing out with his head held high
The amount of time he has spent on the treatment table in recent years is likely to have played a part too, so it’s understandable why he’s called time on his career and he can certainly bow out with his head held high.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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