‘I have had eight wonderful years in Manchester United’

Nemanja Vidic’s time at United is about to end but Vidic will be remembered as one of the club’s greatest defenders — and he has similar affection for the club. By Andrew McDermott.

The end of one era signals the beginning of a new one for Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic.

The Serbian has been a rock in the heart of United’s defence since early 2006 but his time at Old Trafford is coming to an end, with the 32-year-old preparing to join Inter Milan at the end of the season.

As a winner of five Premier League titles and one Champions League crown, Vidic has been a crucial part of United’s success in recent years and his departure just adds to the rebuilding task facing manager David Moyes.

Vidic will certainly take some replacing, having been one of the shrewd signings that were a hallmark of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign as United manager.

Having been born in Titovo Uzice in Yugoslavia in 1981, Vidic impressed in youth football and was signed up by Red Star Belgrade.

The first chance to play senior football came when he spent the 2000/01 season on loan at Spartak Subotica before he returned to Belgrade and helped them win the Yugoslav Cup.

Vidic’s domestic form was rewarded when he was handed his international debut for Serbia and Montenegro against Italy in a EURO 2004 qualifier.

His growing importance to the Red Star team was recognised when he was handed the captain’s armband and in 2004 he led the team to a League and Cup double.

It was a fitting end to his time at the club before he completed a move to Spartak Moscow for an undisclosed fee.

He spent two years in Russia and almost moved to Fiorentina in Italy before, in December 2005, United confirmed Vidic had agreed to join them in an estimated GBP7million deal.

He soon won his first medal in English football, coming on as a late substitute in the League Cup final success against Wigan.

Vidic also helped Serbia and Montenegro qualify for the 2006 World Cup as part of a back four that conceded just one goal in 10 qualifying matches but suspension and then injury meant he played no part at the finals.

Back at United, Vidic formed a solid partnership with Rio Ferdinand in the heart of the defence and helped the Red Devils regain the Premier League title, although they were beaten by Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

In November 2007, Vidic signed a two-year contract extension to keep him at Old Trafford until 2012 and was again a key member of the team as United claimed their second straight league title before memorably winning the Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow.

A third consecutive championship title followed in 2009 and Vidic played in every game as Edwin van der Sar set a world record of 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal, although United could not repeat their Champions League success after losing to Barcelona in the Rome final.

Vidic finally got his chance to perform at the World Cup in 2010 but he could not prevent a first-round exit despite a 1-0 victory over Germany.

He was also linked with a move to Real Madrid but on his return to Old Trafford, he was given a four-year contract extension and named United skipper before leading the team to the EPL title once more but another Champions League final defeat to Barcelona followed at Wembley.

Since then, Vidic’s career has been plagued by injuries. In December 2011, he ruptured cruciate ligaments and was ruled out for the remainder of the season, having already missed eight weeks with a calf injury.

He returned for the opening-day defeat at Everton in August 2012 but his comeback lasted just five games before he was forced to undergo a second operation, keeping him out for three months.

Vidic got his hands on the EPL trophy again in 2013 though as United won a historic 20th league title — their fifth during Vidic’s stay at the club.

United look set to finish empty-handed this season and it does not seem a fitting way for Vidic’s time at the club to end but Inter have high hopes that he can enjoy even more success with them.

Inter president Erick Thohir said: “Vidic is a great champion. He is one of the strongest defenders in the world, for his characteristics, his international experience, his charisma as a leader will be crucial for the team and the growth of our younger players.

“He will add value to the

club and will be another pillar for the construction of a great Inter.”

His time at United is about to end but Vidic will be remembered as one of the club’s greatest defenders — and he has similar affection for the club.

“I have had eight wonderful years here,” he said. “My time at this great club will always rank as the best years of my career.

“The only club I ever wanted to play for here (in England) is Manchester United.

“I never could have imagined winning 15 trophies and I will certainly never forget that fantastic night in Moscow, memories that will live with me and the fans forever.” Vidic married Ana Ivanovic (no relation to the famous tennis player) in July 2006 and the couple have three sons.

FACT FILE THE PLAYER: Nemanja Vidic POSITION: Defender CLUB: Manchester United DOB: 21/10/1981 INTERNATIONAL CAPS: 56 INTERNATIONAL GOALS: 2

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Winning the Champions League in 2008 is the high point of Vidic’s career.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Being sent off four times for United against bitter rivals Liverpool.

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