Now for #5 in our Club Legends feature, the focus of this update is Nemanja Vidic, the man who helped the club win five Premier League Titles, three League Cups, one European Cup and one Fifa Club World Club in his eight and a half seasons with Manchester United. Nemanja was born on 21st October 1981, he was born in Titova Uzice which at the time of his birth was part of the old Yugoslavia. Would later become part of Serbia after the Yugoslavian wars which broke out during Nemanja teenage years and he and his family lived in constant fear of being bombed.
After two and half years with his local side Sloboda Uzice, who he joined at the age of 12, he was signed to Red Star Belgrade’s youth system before his 15th birthday. He started his senior career with a season long loan at Spartak Subotica in 2000, on his return to Red Star Belgrade he became a regular feature in the first team under coach Zoran Filipovic. he helped Red Star win the Yugoslav Cup in 2001/02 season.
He quickly gained the Red Star Belgrade captain’s armband and in his three years as captain he scored 12 goals in 67 games before leaving Red Star in July 2004. In his final season with Red Star he helped them win a domestic league and cup double. He left Red Star to join Russian side Spartak Moscow, it was reported that Vidic became the most expensive defender in the history of the Russian Premier League, in his two seasons with Spartak Moscow he played 41 games and scored 4 goals before moving to Manchester United in the January transfer window of the 2005/06 season.
Vidic signed for Manchester United on Christmas Day 2005, a perfect Christmas present for Manchester United fans. He officially joined the club for a fee of around £7million once the January transfer opened. Once he had signed it took Vidic a while to adapt to life in England and get up to speed on fitness as the Russian season had finished a few months prior to him signing for United. He made his debut on 25th January 2006 as a substitute in the dying minutes of a League Cup semi-final against Blackburn Rovers.
Nemanja picked up his first medal at Manchester United when he came on as a substitute in 83rd minute of the League Cup final. A match United won 4-0 against Wigan Athletic, thanks to two goals from Wayne Rooney and a goal apiece for Louis Saha and Ronaldo. Vidic later gave his winner’s medal to Giuseppe Rossi in recognition of his performances in earlier rounds. Vidic made 15 appearances for Manchester United in 2005/06 season.
In his first full season at Manchester United, Vidic became a more established player in the United first-team and formed a partnership at the centre of United’s defence with Rio Ferdinand. Their partnership became one of the most prominent in Europe as Vidic helped United win the Premier League Title in 2006/07 season. He made 25 appearances in the Premier League, scoring 3 goals. His first goal for United came on 14th October 2006 in a 3-1 victory over Wigan Athletic and scored his first goal at Old Trafford on 4th November 2006 in a 3-0 victory over Portsmouth. In all competitions Vidic made 38 appearances and scored 4 goals in the 2006/07 season.
The 2007/08 season was another successful one for Vidic and his Manchester United team-mates as they completed the Premier League and European Cup double. Vidic was an ever-present once against as United beat Chelsea to both the Premier League Title and also beat them in the European Cup final in Moscow in the first all English European final. He was an ever-present at the centre of United’s defence alongside Ferdinand as Vidic made 32 appearances in the Premier League and made 45 appearances in all competitions. Vidic was selected in the PFA team of the year for the 2007/08 season.
The 2008/09 season was another successful one for Manchester United and for Vidic on a personal level as well. Manchester United won the Premier League title for a third successive season, United also entered the Fifa Club World Cup as European Champions and won this trophy. Vidic also won his 2nd League Cup winners medal in the 2008/09 season. Vidic was once again an ever-present in the United defence, appearing in 34 Premier League games and making 55 appearances in all competitions.
Vidic was part of the United team that kept 14 consecutive cleans sheets, this is a worldwide league record. As United beat rivals Liverpool to the title and in doing so went level with Liverpool on 18 English League Titles. Vidic performances were again recognised as he was once again selected in PFA team of the year and won Barclays Player of the Season and was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year. He won the clubs Players Player of the Year award and also the Fans Player of the Year award for the 2008/09 season.
The 2009/10 season wasn’t as successful as three previous seasons for Vidic and Manchester United as they lost out on the Premier League title by 1 point to Chelsea, though they did win the League Cup for the third time in Nemanja United career and for the second season running as they beat Aston Villa 2-1 in the final at Wembley Stadium. Vidic made 24 appearances in the Premier League, meaning he missed 14 games in United’s League campaign and he made 33 appearances in all competitions.
During in the 2010/11 season Vidic took over the club captaincy from Gary Neville who was suffering from injuries and no longer a regular feature in the United team. Nemanja first season as club captain was a successful one as he helped the club regain the Premier League title and making them the most successful English league side as they moved on 19th League Championships, one ahead of Liverpool on 18. Vidic was once again selected in the PFA team of the year and won the Premier League player of the season for the 2010/11 season.
In the 2011/12 season Nemanja suffered a major knee injured and only made 10 appearances in competitions. He missed several games early in the season before eventually suffering his season ending knee injury in a European Cup tie in December of 2011 against Basel. United missed out on Premier League title on goal difference to neighbours Manchester City in Nemanja absence. Nemanja returned at the start of the 2012/13 season however he was rules out for eight weeks due to another knee injury in late September 2012.
After Vidic returned from this further injury he helped Manchester United walk away with the Premier League title and they eventually won the league by the 11 points from defending champions Manchester City. This was United’s 20th League title and Nemanja 5th in his United career.
The 2013/14 season would turn out to be the Nemanja Vidic last at Manchester United, as the team struggled under new manager David Moyes, United finished 7th in the Premier League as Vidic announced in February that he would be leaving the club in the summer. Moyes was sacked before the end of the season.
I feel David Moyes being the manager was a major factor in Nemanja deciding to leave the club and maybe if United had made a managerial change earlier Vidic may still be a United player now. Vidic was joined in leaving the club by he defensive colleagues Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. In his last game at Old Trafford Vidic received three standing ovations, one during a pre-match presentation with Sir Bobby Charlton. The second when he came on as substitute and the third with his first touch of the game.
In his eight and a half seasons at Manchester United Nemanja Vidic made 300 appearances and scored 21 goals for the club. He helped the club win many honours and also was honoured on a personal level for his performances in a Manchester United shirt. Nemanja Vidic will forever be remembered by Manchester United for his no nonsense defending and the fans will sing his name for many years to come.