15. NEMANJA VIDIC
|Birthdate:||21 Oct 1981|
|Joined United:||05 Jan 2006|
|United Debut:||25 Jan 2006 v Blackburn (H)|
Tall, uncompromising and solid as a rock, Nemanja Vidic is the epitome of what a United captain should aspire to.
Relentless in the tackle and formidable in the air, Vidic has become one of the League’s most feared defenders and has been a key factor in United’s recent silverware gluttony. The Serbian began his career with boyhood club Red Star Belgrade, joining their youth programme at 14. His first-team debut didn’t arrive until 2001 but he went on to make 22 appearances in his first season. He eventually ended his stay with Red Star by leading them to Serbia’s domestic league and cup double before switching to Russian outfit Spartak Moscow in August 2004. Just 39 games and four goals later, United came calling. The Reds announced his signing on Christmas Day, 2005. He hadn’t played for two months as the Russian season had recently ended, so it took time for his true ability to shine. But after completing an intensive training programme, Vida began to show his class. A collarbone injury sustained at the end of March 2007 kept Vidic out of the bulk of United’s title run-in that season, but his performances until that point had been strong enough to help the Reds to the top of the league. His play also inspired a rousing song among the matchgoing faithful. The Serbian’s impressive performances continued and earned him a contract extension in 2007. He said of the improved deal: “Playing in this team is a great privilege. I hope I can do my bit to bring the club even more trophies in the years ahead.” True to his word, he did just that in 2008/09, helping the Reds to an 18th league title, the FIFA Club World Cup and the Carling Cup. Much of the success could be attributed to Vidic’s fine form, a fact not lost on his team-mates, who voted the towering Serbian defender the Players’ Player of the Year at the Reds’ end-of-season awards. He was also the fans’ choice, picking up the coveted Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award. Injury and an ever-changing back four prevented Nemanja from bettering those achievements in 2009/10, although he still played a key role in the Reds’ charge towards glory both at home and abroad. His influence on other defenders, most notably Jonny Evans, was also significant and will ensure United’s back four remains tight for years to come. He penned a new four-year deal with the club in the summer of 2010 which will keep him at Old Trafford until at least 2014, and he followed that announcement by succeeding Gary Neville as United’s captain, an achievement Vidic described as ‘a huge honour’. The new skipper took to the role immaculately, and enjoyed arguably his most consistent season at the club during 2010/11. Under his leadership, the Reds reclaimed the Premier League title from Chelsea, with his goal against the Blues in the run-in proving vital, and were beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League final, while personal recognition arrived in the form of the Barclays Player of the Season award. Vidic was unfortunate not to be able to build on his recent personal achievement in 2011/12 as he was sideline for half the season after suffering cruciate knee ligament damage against Basel in the Champions League. Vidic’s absence was a bitter blow for the Reds as his form, prior to the injury, had be colossal, leading from the back with his usual fearless gusto. Indeed, one stellar performance during a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Everton had proved he was at the peak of his powers only a matter of weeks before the season-wrecking injury. Plotting a cautious return from such a serious setback, the centre-back missed the 2012 DHL tour to continue his rehabilitation at Carrington.