Quotes on: Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic


“Vidic has been the key to the defence. And he’s made Rio [Ferdinand] into a top-class player. I thought Rio was a very good defender before, but since Vidic has arrived they’ve both formed a settled partnership and Rio has developed brilliantly, just like Vidic.”
Peter Schmeichel

“The game has changed a lot since I played – it’s much quicker nowadays and there are even more skilful players around. That’s why Rio and Vidic are so impressive.”
— Peter Schmeichel

“People say I scored a few goals against Manchester United and I would say when I was scoring against Manchester United I was really, really happy because I didn’t score much.  So for me to score against [ . . . ] means that I had a good game.”
— Didier Drogba

“We’ve had some magnificent centre halves down the years. But these two form the most formidable pairing of all.”
Sir Bobby Charlton

“Vidic was the ball-winning warrior and Ferdinand was the elegant quasi-sweeper, gliding alongside a striker and stealing the ball off his toes.”
— Paul Hayward
(football journalist)

“We have played for seven years together and we have had so much success. We understood each other from the first day. Sometimes you understand a player and see the game in the same way; if you have a player who likes to play a different way, sometimes it is difficult to play well together.”
— Nemanja Vidic

“We didn’t work on it in training, we could smell each other’s movement, you just knew, it was instinct. I knew when he was going to go tight and I’d go round and cover. I knew when he was going to drop off, I’d push in. I knew when he was in a bit of trouble, I’d always hang back and be that safety net for him. He was the best partner and favourite partner I played with.”
— Rio Ferdinand

“With Vidic, I know exactly where he’s going to be, without speaking.”
— Rio Ferdinand

“I’m always asked about our partnership, did you do specific training etc. Not really no, it was something that just worked very naturally. He was very aggressive, loved attacking the 1st ball in or out of the box, getting right into the opposing strikers, and I liked the sweeping up and covering type stuff. But our partnership brought out the best in our games and made us strive harder to be the best. My favourite partner to play alongside – YES.”
— Rio Ferdinand

The sight of Ferdinand and Vidic marshaling the defense at Old Trafford will live long in the memory.

“I formed a really good triangle with Rio and Nemanja. They were in the prime of their career – I was at the end of mine [ . . . ]. When I said one word they did it and they trusted me. If I said left, right, come down or anything they would do it and I think we formed the backbone to a very successful Manchester United team.”
Edwin van der Sar

“(Vidic) and Ferdinand (were) without question one of best centre back partnerships ever to play in this country.”
— Danny Higginbotham

“Vidić and Ferdinand were a rock to build a team on.”
Sir Alex Ferguson
(from his autobiography)

“I have not seen a better defensive pairing than him and Nemanja for a long time.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson

“There’s an argument that Rio and Vidic need each other to be at their best [ . . . ] They are a fantastic combination, a great blend, with Rio’s wonderful all-round ability to see the game, to make interceptions and to play the ball in the tightest of spaces alongside Vidic getting in the way of everything. The bottom line is they have played in three Champions League finals together during the club’s golden period.”
Gary Neville
(from his autobiography “Red”)



“Rio has been the best defender in the country if not Europe for a couple of years. His maturity and leadership have been key factors in the team’s success. He is someone that young players learn from and that more experienced players respect.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson

“When he was 15, I knew he was going to be a fantastic defender.”
— Harry Redknapp

“I tipped him at 16 to be the greatest centre-half in Europe and I think, for a time, that is exactly what he was.”
— Harry Redknapp

“The modern-day central defender: superb technique and genuine pace.”
— Sven-Goran Eriksson

“Rio Ferdinand was so calm and composed. He read the game so well and his technique was superb. There is no panic from him and that is what you need at the back. If the defence is shaky, it brings negativity to the whole team. Rio’s main attribute was bringing a balance to the side.”
–- Mikael Silvestre

“He was a great player, without a doubt the best centre-half I ever played with. I would say for a time as well he was the best centre-half in the world. He was such a pleasure to play with and play in front of. To play in front of him, he made your job so easy.”
Paul Scholes

“He was a brilliant leader, brilliant in the air and a great defender.”
— Ryan Giggs

“I played with Rio for the first two or three years of my career. I saw he come through as a young boy – he started as a No 10 and moved himself back to centre-half. He practised heading – heading maybe 50 balls after training when he was 17 to improve his game. To then see him at Manchester United as an absolute world-beater was amazing because I knew how much it meant to him. He was top class.”
— Frank Lampard

“Now the position of the centre-back is not just about defending or being nasty or tough. It’s about knowing how to play football, control the ball, pass and be more comfortable in possession. This is something that 10 years ago [in England] they didn’t understand. Rio was the first one who did it.”
— Gerard Pique


“What a player. Quite simply the best centre-back I’ve come across.”
— Michael Carrick

“The word colossal comes into play as that’s the type of player that Ferdinand was. [ . . . ] Rio can leave that football club (Manchester United) with his head held incredibly high in terms of what he has achieved.”
— Dwight Yorke

“When he plays he makes it look so simple you think it’s over-confidence, but it’s just he’s that good.”
— Paul McGrath

“He was a very elegant player. He had a fantastic time at West Ham but when he finally got to Manchester United, that’s when he took it on and went to the proper heights, especially under Sir Alex Ferguson. That’s when he excelled.”
— Sol Campbell

“A great defender but what I really like about him is that he can really play too. The potential was always there and he was already very good when I played against him, but he’s just got better and better with experience. One of the best defenders in the world.”
— Dion Dublin

“I honestly believe that on current form we’ve got the best player in the world. I don’t just mean the best defender – I mean the best player.”
— Kieron Dyer

“Ferdinand is a great leader and a great defender – I like him a lot. I have played against him before and he’s very quick and very strong – very strong indeed.”
— David Villa

“He’s so clean that he wins the ball like Bobby Moore did.”
— Tord Grip

“To have captained his country, and to play at three World Cups, marks him out among a very special group of players.”
— Roy Hodgson



“(He) Came in when Manchester United were seriously lacking a no-nonsense defender. Full-blooded tackler, never afraid to boot the ball clear but very tactically aware at the same time. He’d put his foot or head in danger for the benefit of the team – as a goalkeeper you love that.”
— Peter Schmeichel

“He has been such an influence. He is the envy of the whole league and he has been a brilliant, brilliant player for us.”
Sir Bobby Charlton

“Nemanja is unbelievable in the air. He wins absolutely everything. He is so powerful and brave, and he has a fantastic leap to get above the strikers. And he also comes up for set-pieces and scores goals.

“As a defender he makes the full-backs, the goalkeeper and the midfielders in front of him all feel secure. He is a player you can depend on and put your trust in, and that’s important.

“I like that he doesn’t try to do too much, he sticks to his task of defending, and does that job very well.”
— Sir Bobby Charlton

“How he didn’t win Player of the Year in 2010/11 is beyond me. He was easily the most consistent, influential player in the league.”
— Gary Neville
(from his autobiography “Red”)

“To see what an unbelievable force he became while at Man Utd means the work he committed himself to physically and mentally is truly huge. He worked on his strength in the gym, worked out what was needed for him to succeed in the Premier League and then started to establish himself in our team.”
— Rio Ferdinand

“He became a defender that was feared, he could fight with the most physical, he crunched into tackles, he attacked the ball better than anyone I’ve ever seen. But as he will tell you with a smile, he could also play with the ball too, which made him complete & a great defender. Because he was so good in the aggressive/attacking the ball areas people probably looked over his ability with the ball to his annoyance!”
— Rio Ferdinand

“When I think of him as a footballer, Nemanja puts his head where other players are scared to put their feet. That’s Nemanja. At corners I’m always helping the defenders and he’s always close to me. I’ve seen him, time after time, diving with his head forward to block a ball. When I’m witnessing that, I’m scared for him. This is Nemanja. It’s unbelievable.”
— Robin van Persie

“Vida, simply the best out and out defender I’ve seen. Aggression and desire to win at all costs, scared centre forwards to death!”
— Michael Carrick

“You learn off him every day in training, even if he doesn’t say anything, you just watch and learn. He’s been a huge influence on my career at United and has really helped me along the way. I owe him a lot and I am grateful for everything he’s done.”
— Phil Jones

“That (Vidic’s initial struggles at Manchester United) happens to some players coming into the English game. But Nemanja adapted and has been a great signing. He is a warrior. He is a natural defender. You don’t leave him out unless you are going to rest him. When the ball comes into the penalty box, you know that the one who wants to get it clear will be Nemanja [ . . . ]. He was so powerful and positive in everything he went for.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson


“How many centre-halves can you name who actually like defending? Vidić liked it. He loved the challenge of sticking his head in there. You could tell that the thrill of contesting those 50–50 balls animated him. Smalling is a bit like that: he enjoys defending. Vidić was a dour, uncompromising sod. He was a proud Serb.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson
(from his autobiography)

“My type of defender. Liverpool tried to buy him in January 2006 but our loss was United’s gain. I’d have loved to have played alongside him and I’m sure we could have formed a solid partnership. He loves defending and putting his head in where it hurts.”
— Jamie Carragher

“This is a guy you just don’t want to play against: big and strong, there was only one winner in a 50-50. But the guy  could play as well, he could pass the ball, he was a danger in the opposition penalty box as well. You need a football brain more than anything else when you play at center-back, and this guy had brains and brawn.”
— Steve Nicol

“Physically, he could outmuscle you, he could outplay you, his positional sense was fantastic. What a player.”
— Steve Nicol

“It might surprise you to hear that Nemanja, who arrived from Spartak Moscow, was not the powerful centre-back he became over his years with the club. There was nothing of him when he arrived. He was skinny and relatively easy to push off the ball. [ . . . ] he took a battering in his first few weeks at the club – in training as well as matches. [ . . . ]

“Nemanja must have realised quite early on that he was not strong enough to play in the centre of defence at that time, so he did something about it. For the next year, every time I walked past the gym, I would see Nemanja in there lifting weights. He turned himself into a big, strong centre-half who was capable of knocking strikers out of the way. He always had a great ability to head the ball, but allied with his strength he became unbeatable in the air.

“Throughout his United career, we would play away at difficult grounds and it would be Nemanja heading crosses and set pieces when the team were under pressure. In training, he was different. He always fancied himself as a No 10, and he was a very skilful individual. It was a shame that his injuries got the better of him at the end of his time at Old Trafford.”
— Paul Scholes
(The Independent)

“Take it from me, Vida is one very hard lad. Sometimes you might hear criticism of foreign players who might have plenty of fancy tricks on the ball, but throw them into battle on a freezing wet February night at Bolton, or Stoke, or Blackburn, and they just don’t fancy it. Well, Vida does fancy it, no matter how tough the assignment. He relishes the physical challenge of the game, the heading, the tackling, the getting in against fearsome opponents when the chips are down. It took him a little while to settle when he arrived in Manchester, but soon he proved himself to be top quality, not only as a warrior, but also in his use of the ball. Vida is a natural for the role of captain, leading from the front.”
— Paul Scholes
(from his autobiography “Scholes: My Story”)

“He’s so brave, it’s untrue.”
— Paddy Crerand

“In all honesty, which footballer would you more like on your team than the Serb? What a titan. A man who put himself on the line in every confrontation, he not only gave his all, he ensured his team-mates did also. As captain he not only led from the front, he made sure everyone else followed.

“Looks are not everything in football. But in Vidic’s case they spoke volumes. He looked almost as terrifying as he was. That scowl, that glare, that furrowed brow: it was enough to remove the resolve from the most stout hearted opponent. And a glance from the skipper was equally capable of ensuring no-one on his own team slipped from his elevated standards.

“This was not just a defender who appeared to regard it as a personal affront to concede a goal, here was someone who chivvied his colleagues into similar acts of defiance. No-one was going to shirk from a tackle knowing Nemanja would be on their case…

“Tricksy wingers and fancy dan forwards might steal the attention. But it is defenders like Vidic who stir the blood.”
— Jim White
(award-winning journalist and contributor to Eurosport)


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