Nemanja Vidić: The Serbian Warrior

man utd defender nemanja vidic

Player Profile: Nemanja Vidić

Date of Birth: 21/10/1981

Height: 1.90m (6 ft 3 in)

Position: Centre-Back

National Team: Serbia

International Caps: 56

International Goals: 2

Club Career

Nemanja Vidić was born in Uzice, Serbia (formerly SFR Yugoslavia), on 21 October 1981. He grew up during the Yugoslav war and spent his primitive years playing for Jedinstvo Uzice and Sloboda Uzice at youth level until he joined Red Star Belgrade’s youth system in 1996. 

Red Star manager Slavoljub Muslin shipped Vidić out on a season-long loan to second-tier outfit Spartak Subotica for the 2000/01 season. He flourished playing regular first team football and finished his solitary season with Golubovi with 6 goals in 27 appearances.

Zoran Filipovic succeeded Muslin just three months into the 2001/02 season. The switch in management saw Vidić transformed into a first team regular and he scored 2 goals in 22 appearances as Red Star won the FR Yugoslavia Cup.

Filipovic quickly installed him as captain and he made 95 appearances, scoring 16 goals during his three seasons in Belgrade. Vidić made 8 appearances in the UEFA Cup in 2002 and 2003 respectively and marked his final season by winning the domestic double.

Spartak Moscow paid a reported fee of £4.01 million to sign him from Red Star in June 2001. Vidić joined the Red-Whites mid-way into the 2004 campaign and scored 2 goals in 13 appearances as they slumped to a disappointing 8th place finish in the Russian Premier League.

His only full season in the Russian capital was significantly more successful. Spartak Moscow finished six points behind league winners CSKA Moscow and the Russian Football Union included Vidić in its list of the top 33 players.

Manchester United had been monitoring Vidić for two-and-a-half years before they spent £7 million to lure him away from Moscow in January 2006. He made his debut in a 2-1 win in the League Cup semi-final against Blackburn Rovers when he replaced Ruud Van Nistelrooy of the match.  

He made 15 appearances for the Red Devils during the 2005/06 season and won the Football League Cup. Vidić found it difficult to adjust to the Premier League during his first six months in England but he eventually settled and formed a spectacular partnership with Rio Ferdinand.

Vidić marked his first full season with his first Premier League winners’ medal and United also reached the FA Cup final. Didier Drogba prevented them from securing a domestic double with an extra-time winner for the Blues in the first final at the new Wembley Stadium.

Manchester United won a second consecutive Premier League title in 2008 and consolidated their domestic success by defeating Chelsea on penalties in the first ever all-English UEFA Champions League final.

The Red Devils capped an extraordinary era by winning a third successive league title in 2008/09. But Barcelona denied them a second successive league and European double by inflicting a 2-0 defeat on United in the Champions League final in Rome. Vidić achieved his highest scoring season during the 2008/09 campaign – netting 7 goals in 55 appearances in all competitions.

Chelsea ended their domestic dominance in the 2009/10 season by winning both the Premier League and FA Cup. Bayern Munich also condemned United to a quarter-final exit in the Champions League, winning the two-legged tie on away goals.

Normal service resumed during the 2010/11 season as Manchester United reaffirmed their superiority in the Premier League. Alex Ferguson named Vidić as the club captain for the opening five matches of the season and later announced that he’d be succeeding Gary Neville in the role.

Vidić exemplified his natural leadership qualities throughout the 2010/11 season and played a decisive role in guiding them to a fourth league title in five years. United and Chelsea met at Old Trafford with three league games remaining and a victory for the hosts would all but guarantee them a record-breaking 19th league title.

Javier Hernandez struck United into the lead after only 36 seconds and Vidić doubled their lead with a venomous header on 23 minutes. Frank Lampard reduced the deficit with 22 minutes left on the clock but the win took United six points clear in the title race.

After winning the Premier League, Manchester United hoped to seek revenge on FC Barcelona when they met in the Champions League final for the second time in three seasons. Alas, the Spanish heavyweights proved too strong for United and won by a comfortable 3-1 score-line at Wembley.

The 2011/12 season was perhaps the most difficult in Vidić’s iconic spell at Old Trafford. He missed the opening stages of the season with a calf injury and was later ruled out for the remainder of the season after being stretchered off with a knee injury against FC Basel in December 2011.

Manchester United subsequently lost out in the title race to local rivals Manchester City on goal difference courtesy of a famous late comeback against QPR on the final day of the season. Vidić looked to be nearing the end of his career when another knee injury ruled out him out for eight weeks in September 2012. He returned just before Christmas and helped lead United to their 20th Premier League title but the Vidic-Ferdinand partnership was well into its final years.

David Moyes succeeded Ferguson at the end of the 2012/13 season and Vidić struggled to maintain his form under the former Everton manager. He bid farewell to the United faithful in a win against Hull City on 6 May 2014, after announcing his intention to leave back in February. He left Old Trafford with 21 goals in 300 appearances and 15 major trophies, including 5 Premier League titles and 1 UEFA Champions League.

Inter Milan signed him on a free transfer in July 2014 but Vidić found himself surplus to requirements when Roberto Mancini replaced Walter Mazzarri in November 2014. Vidić briefly enjoyed a run in the side towards the end of the season but he failed to play a single game during the 2015/16 season.

On 18 January 2016, Internazionale announced his contract had ended by mutual consent and Vidić then announced his retirement 11 days later.

International Career

Vidić made his senior international debut against Italy during the the Euro 2004 qualifiers. He played at the heart of the famous defence that leaked only one goal in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers. However, Vidić was suspended for the opening match against Holland and a knee ligament injury meant he missed the entire tournament in Germany.

Serbia qualified for the 2010 World Cup by finishing at the top of a group containing 2006 finalists France. They also boasted the strongest defensive record in the group but things went less smoothly in South Africa. They inflicted a surprising 1-0 defeat on Germany in the second match but finished bottom of the group courtesy of defeats to Ghana and Australia respectively.

In October 2011, Vidić announced his retirement from international football after scoring 2 goals in 56 caps.

Where is Nemanja Vidic Now?

Vidić re-joined Manchester United as a club ambassador in 2016 and has also worked as a pundit for BEIN Sports and Sky Sports. However, he told BBC Sport in March 2018, that he wants to be a “real manager” and also revealed that he was close to completing his Football Association Pro-License.

Did You Know? Interesting facts about Nemanja Vidić

– Vidić and Ferdinand were named in the PFA Team of the Year in three consecutive seasons between 2006 and 2009.

– He was twice voted Premier League Player of the Season in 2008/09 and 2010/11 respectively.

– Fiorentina nearly signed Vidić prior to his move to Manchester United in 2006. Their Sporting Director Pantaleo Corvina had agreed a deal to sign him but he was unable to join immediately because Fiorentina didn’t have any non-EU spots left in their squad at the time.