The Greatest XI: The Serbian Murderer

Football began over 150 years ago. For myself, personally, it began in 1990. At the age of ten, I fell in love with the sport and of course Manchester United. Watching the FA Cup Final with my father and his mates, followed by Italia ’90. It really did capture my imagination, which got me thinking, what or rather who would be my dream Manchester United eleven? Over the coming weeks, I shall be selecting my one to eleven.

5. Nemanja Vidic – Centre Back

The fourth and final piece of this defensive unit is Serbian international, Nemanja Vidic. Signed in the January of 2006 for just over £7 million, Vidic would go on to eventually captain United, during an eight-year stint.

Part of the ” famous four ” from the Serbian back line, who only conceded one goal during qualification for the 2006 World Cup, this prompted Sir Alex to part with the money to bring Vidic to Old Trafford from Spartak Moscow, midway through the 2005/06 season. Vidic took no time at all in settling in. A no-nonsense defender who would often stick his head where most players would only put their feet. Decent on the ball and loved a tackle, Vidic thrived on just defending.

Sir Alex Ferguson: “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.”

His eight seasons at Old Trafford saw Vidic lift the Premier League trophy on five occasions, as well as three League Cups. Vidic would also go on to Champions League glory in 2008, part of the squad who went on to beat Chelsea on penalties, that rainy night in Moscow. Vidic would never back down from a challenge, highlighted at the end of extra time when an altercation with man mountain, Didier Drogba, saw the Ivorian heading for an early shower before the shootout.

The following season would see the Serbian’s partnership with Rio Ferdinand go from strength to strength. 14 consecutive games without conceding a goal would contribute to yet another Premier League title and a Premier League Player of the Year award.

Rio Ferdinand on his partnership with Vidic: “We didn’t work on it in training, we could smell each other’s movement, you just knew, it was instinct. I knew when he was going to go tight and I’d go round and cover. I knew when he was going to drop off, I’d push in. I knew when he was in a bit of trouble, I’d always hang back and be that safety net for him. He was the best partner and favourite partner I played with.”

Vidic’s most impressive season by far was the 2010/11 campaign. United had wrestled the title back from rivals, Chelsea. Vidic was once again a defensive wall at the back. Not only did United win the league, Vidic also won the Premier League Player of the Year for a second time. Only Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo had won it twice, before the Serbians fantastic season.

Robin van Persie: “I do count him as one of my best friends. When I think of him as a footballer, Nemanja puts his head where other players are scared to put their feet. That’s Nemanja. At corners, I’m always helping the defenders and he’s always close to me. I’ve seen him, time after time, diving with his head forward to block a ball. When I’m witnessing that, I’m scared for him. This is Nemanja. It’s unbelievable.”

It wasn’t all plain sailing though for Vidic. A couple of games against his¬†nemesis, Fernando Torres, saw Vidic heading for an early shower. These games were just a minor blip in what was a fantastic eight years of service.

Vidic would eventually be moved on by David Moyes in 2014. United fans would not be so forgiving towards Moyes for this act of naivety. The captain was shipped out when many thought that even though his injuries had started to creep up on him, he could of still done a job for the team.

Nemanja, whoaaaaaa

Nemanja, whoaaaaaa

He comes from Serbia, He’ll f**king murder ya

What a song! What a player. The vice-captain of this team for sure. So that’s it for the defensive unit, here’s a recap of who’s in so far:

Schmeichel

Neville Stam Vidic Irwin

About the Author

John McNicoll
Southern Red and Football enthusiast.