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Nemanja VIDIC
GEORGE DOHRMANN
June 16, 2011
SIR ALEX SPENT A BUNDLE TO IMPORT THE SERBIAN DEFENDER TO ENGLAND, AND HE'S REPAID EVERY PENNY ON THE PITCH
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June 16, 2011

Nemanja Vidic

SIR ALEX SPENT A BUNDLE TO IMPORT THE SERBIAN DEFENDER TO ENGLAND, AND HE'S REPAID EVERY PENNY ON THE PITCH

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Said Vidic, "Being captain is a big achievement and honor for me, and I enjoy the responsibility. For me, as a captain you don't need to do anything special, you just have to be yourself and be an example to the other players. I just try to give my best in every game and use the experience I have gained over the years to help the team be successful."

Vidic's success in his club career has overshadowed his inconsistent play for his country. In qualifying matches for the 2006 World Cup, Vidic was part of the stingy Famous Four backline for Serbia and Montenegro that conceded only one goal in 10 games, a record for World Cup qualifying. However, a one-match suspension for a red card and then a left-knee injury caused Vidic to miss the tournament in Germany, and his team went three and out. Serbia entered South Africa 2010 as a highly regarded dark horse but again failed to advance from the group stage. After a disappointing 1--0 loss to Ghana in the opener, Serbia stunned Germany 1--0. But in the decisive third match Vidic & Co. fell to Australia 2--1 in a game in which the Serbs failed to convert several scoring chances and had a late penalty claim denied. A 2--2 finish would have seen them through.

For both club and country Vidic has a reputation as a very physical player. "He doesn't hold back from any challenges," said former Man U great Gary Pallister, also a center back. "Players respond to that." Ferguson recalls Vidic's first season of practices, when he would go in so hard on teammates that the manager had to ask him to take it easy. "He has that mentality of the proper, really authentic defender," Ferguson said. "Watch Vidic in training, and he'll batter [a teammate] and then pick him up, as if to say, This is my job, this is what I do. I'll be yelling from the touchline, 'Watch the tackling, watch the tackling,' and Vidic will shout, 'Sorry, boss, sorry, boss.' But he's not sorry at all. He just loves defending."

Some fans refer to him as the Terminator, and one popular YouTube clip splices action footage of Vidic with scenes (and music) from the Schwarzenegger movie. Vidic is aware of his image, and he's had some fun showing a softer side. "I know I have a reputation for being strong, but I am only human," he told the magazine United Review. "I cry during very sad moments. There was one film—The Notebook—that really touched me too. I was watching it alone, sitting in the dark, and I got very involved in the story. I almost cried. Almost."

The admission made headlines in England, whose tabloids have spent much ink speculating that Vidic has wanted out of the country at different points in his Manchester United career. Journalists surmised that Vidic and his wife, Ana, wished to live in a warmer climate. Last summer those rumors reached fever pitch as Vidic was linked to Real Madrid. Then in August he agreed to a four-year contract extension under which the 29-year-old is likely to end his career at Old Trafford.

"I heard the speculation about me maybe leaving last year, but I know where I want to be, and I have shown my commitment to the club," Vidic said. "I'm definitely here for the rest of my career now. I love it here."

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