Vidic, dreaded rival of strikers

Man United defender will be a key figure for Serbia in the World Cup

Vidic, dreaded rival of strikers

Nemanja Vidic

Widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the game, Manchester United's Vidic saw no action in Germany four years ago due to suspension and injury but this time around he is key to their chances of progress from a tough group. Although he deputises as captain, with the armband currently held by Serbia's most capped player Dejan Stankovic, the 28-year-old Vidic is the team's most influential player with his commanding presence and the ability to unsettle any opposition.

A long list of individual honours includes the Serbian Player of the Year Award in 2005 and 2008 and the Premier League player of the season in 2008-09. His aerial power at both ends of the pitch and tough tackling has proved vital for both club and country over the years. The physical, old-fashioned defender also reads the game well and has an excellent positioning instinct, which has made him one of the most dreaded rivals for any striker.

Vidic made his debut at 18 with Red Star Belgrade, a club which has remained close to his heart after he moved to Spartak Moscow in 2004 and then to Manchester United in 2006, where he has won three successive Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League.

Asked by Serbian media shortly after winning the Champions League whether the success had fulfilled his childhood dream, Vidic said: "I fulfilled my dream when I scored for Red Star as the team's captain against Partizan in the Belgrade derby, everything else is business." After winning the domestic league and cup double with Red Star in 2004, Vidic had two impressive seasons at Spartak Moscow before his January 2006 move to Manchester United, where he quickly became a regular starter under Alex Ferguson. Vidic was in the Serbia & Montenegro 2006 World Cup squad but played no part in the former country's fiasco in the tournament, missing all three group stage defeats through suspension followed by a knee injury.

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