Nemanja Vidic is widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world. Fierce in the tackle and formidable in the air, the 28-year-old has won a string of honours with Manchester United.
Vidic signed for Crvena Zvezda as a 14-year-old, but made his professional debut on a season-long loan deal at Spartak Subotica in 2000. Upon his return to the Belgrade giants, he quickly established himself as a first-team regular and helped them win the Yugoslav Cup in 2001/02. Despite being inexperienced, Vidic was swiftly appointed Crvena captain and after leading the club to a league and cup double in 2003/04, he moved on to Spartak Moscow.
Vidic was an overwhelming success during his one-and-a-half-year stay in the Russian capital and, although he failed to pocket and team honours, he was rewarded individually with the Serbian Footballer of the Year award in 2005. The following January he was bought by Manchester United for £7m.
Vidic quickly formed a brilliant partnership with Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the Red Devils defence, and it was central to the club’s capture three straight Premier League titles and, in a memorable 2008, the UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup. In the summer on 2009, Vidic rejected moves to AC Milan, Real Madrid and Barcelona, who were ready to pay £30m to lure the Serbian, to stay at United.
Vidic made his international debut in 2002 and helped Serbia and Montenegro beat Spain to top spot in Group 7 of European Zone qualifying for Germany 2006, forming, alongside Goran Gavrancic, Mladen Krstajic and Ivica Dragutinovic, a formidable rearguard that conceded just once in ten preliminaries. However, the 1.88m player sustained an injury in training and was forced to watch his team crash out of the world finals from the bench.
Vidic was an integral part of Serbia’s qualification for South Africa 2010, helping them keep four clean sheets in his eight appearances. He is now desperate to atone for the disappointment of 2006.
“We have a handful of players who were at the 2006 World Cup,” he told FIFA.com. “I think we’ll be better prepared than we were four years ago. There are no easy opponents at a World Cup. Every team has good players, and they all deserve to be there. It won’t be easy, but we have a good feeling and believe we’ll give a decent account of ourselves.”
If Serbia are to emerge from a pool including Germany, Australia and Ghana, they will likely need a man who won the 2008/09 Premier League’s player of the season award and was hailed by his manager Sir Alex Ferguson as the best defender in the world to be at his intimidating best.