He Came, He Saw, He Conquered – Nemanja Vidic

Veni, vidi, vici. Those famous Latin words – English translation: I came, I saw, I conquered – reportedly written by Julius Caesar in a letter addressed to the Roman Senate informing him of his victory over his enemy, Pharnaces II of Pontus, are not those one would necessarily associate with a modern-day footballer. However, the phrase not only seems fitting for a certain Manchester United centre-back, it completely embodies him.

Nemanja Vidic

Born in Užice, a city then of Yugoslavia, Nemanja Vidic came from humble beginnings, a war-torn world away from the life he leads now as captain of Manchester United. A proud Serbian, his only escape from conscription during the Yugoslav wars was the fact he played for Red Star Belgrade, a source of national pride and a team of which he became captain in his early twenties. A two year spell with Spartak Moscow saw him land on United’s radar and he was subsequently signed in January 2007.

After a shaky start to his career as a Red following his £7million move, Vidic became a cult hero amongst the supporters for his no-nonsense defending, last-ditch challenges and superb marshalling of the back line. His partnership with Rio Ferdinand at its peak was no less effective than the Iron Curtain before its fall. Ferdinand’s ability to read the game and play the ball out from the back under pressure beautifully complemented the Serbian’s thrashing tackles and willingness to put his head where it hurts. David Hall of FourFourTwo succinctly but brilliantly encapsulated the cohesion of the twosome: “… the perfect combination of a ball-playing centre-half and a partner who would throw himself in front of a train.”

nemanja-vidic-rio-ferdinand

Although arguably not as good a footballer as his team mate, Vidic’s battling qualities saw him handed the captaincy in 2010 and he duly led the team to an historic 19th league title in front of a buoyant away end at Ewood Park the following May. A disheartening Champions League Final on home soil followed, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona. Two years later, however, he had his hands on silverware yet again, lifting the Premier League trophy alongside vice-captain Patrice Evra and departing manager Sir Alex Ferguson, his team then applauded off the Old Trafford pitch by 70,000+ jubilant Manchester United supporters.

During a difficult 2013/14 campaign under the new boss, David Moyes, Vidic’s recent revelation that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season after seven and-a-half years of service was met with disappointment in most cases. There followed a wave of indignation with regard to his announcement coming as early as the beginning of February, some supporters arguing his head was already in Italy following – now confirmed – rumours of an agreement to join Inter Milan in the summer. As the close of the season edges ever closer, however, the overwhelming feeling towards the United captain is gratitude. After all, were the Serb to carry on into next season, he would be fast approaching 33 years of age and, with his best years already behind him, the physical demands of Premier League football might just be too much of an ask for a still powerful but somewhat creaky centre-half. Still United’s most solid defender on his day, Vidic’s armour is now dented. The time has come to gradually phase out the old guard and let Manchester United do what Manchester United does best: hand opportunities to the youth.

Nemanja Vidic training for Manchester United

For the departing skipper, a lot is owed to his upbringing in a war zone, the challenges he faced and the people he lost. All three factors are perhaps evident in his blood and thunder approach to football: Go hard or go home. Win at all costs. Never say die. He bought into the Manchester United attitude, the philosophy, the way football is played at Old Trafford, history preserved, legends revered.

It has truly been a case of veni, vidi, Vidic.


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5 Comments

  1. He was no japp stam,or pallister.Ok but overated.Slow,good in the air.as shown many times against top teams.

    • Sorry to be a pedant but didn’t he sign in 06?. As good a player as he is, due to the recent injuries and reduced form over the last couple of years he fortunately won’t be missed as much as say Stam was when he left. Another thing, not being a red who really criticises the players, I wonder how much effort he will put in to his final games. It is not as though he is joining a team in the Middle East or America or even retiring. He is joining a major European rival and could come back to bite us on the arse sometime. Whether him leaving is his or Moyes’ choice the bottom line is that the season will be pretty much over by the start of April and maybe we should be playing some of the kids for experiance instead?

  2. Hi, John. Thank you for your comment and yes, completely my mistake, it was ’06! Thanks for spotting the typo. With regard to your point on the remaining games, I’ve already seen several people call for Vidic to be removed from the team entirely and, whilst I am not entirely happy that there are photos of him signing his pre-contract with Inter (a little bit unprofessional, if you ask me), he’s still a United player for now. All in all, Vidic was always one of my favourites and a player I loved to watch – even if he was a walking red card!

    I agree re: your suggestion that we blood in some youngsters now. As far as I’m concerned, we’re out of the race for top four and we’ll need a pretty convincing performance against Olympiacos in the return leg just to edge into the quarter-finals. I don’t understand the reasoning behind sending someone like Lingard out on loan when some experience at the top level in upcoming home fixtures such as Villa, Hull, Norwich etc will do him the world of good.

    • Totally agree with what you have said and i think most reasonable Reds will agree. Should we go out against the Greeks there is absolutely nowt to play for, apart from a Europa place which obviously the gimps would want and to be fair a few fans ( new towns etc). But either way Moyes has to be seen to be making his own decisions and putting his foot down soon or it will be too late for him. everyone knows the media is waiting for a massive fall from grace from somebody and Moyes fits the bill this season. He needs to get tough, find a style that is United and go for it. If certain players (RVP) don’t like it , tough. Go and find some one who will pander to you. Ideal opportunity then to ‘blood’ some of the kids and get them schooled in the United way.

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