Former Manchester United champion Nemanja Vidic retires

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Longtime Manchester United defender and five-time Premier League champion Nemanja Vidic has announced his retirement, having left Inter Milan by mutual consent.

Vidic, who captained the Red Devils for three of his eight seasons at Old Trafford, was rumored to be a target of Aston Villa, but chose to retire instead.

“The time has come for me to hang up my boots,” he told Manchester United’s official website. “The injuries I have had in the last few years have taken their toll. I would like to thank all the players I have played with, all the managers and staff I have worked with, and say a big thank you to the fans for their support over the years.”

Having begun his career in his native Serbia with Red Star Belgrade, Vidic joined the Red Devils as a January transfer in the 2005/06 season from Spartak Moscow. During his career, Vidic won five Premier League titles, the 2008 Champions League, three League Cups, and two Club World Cups, all with Manchester United and many alongside Rio Ferdinand. At the expiry of his contract in the summer of 2014, Vidic moved to Inter Milan, where injuries caused his Italian experiment to produce mixed results. He made 23 Serie A appearances last season, but has not featured this year due to hernia surgery back in August.

Ferdinand commented on Vidic’s retirement via his Facebook page, saying that initially Vidic was “judged” in the Manchester United locker room looking “out of his depth.”

“But he worked on his strength in the gym,” Ferdinand wrote, “worked out what was needed for him to succeed in the Premier League and then started to establish himself in our team. He became a defender that was feared. He could fight with the most physical, he crunched into tackles, and he attacked the ball better than anyone I have ever seen.”

Vidic had success with the Serbian national team as well, making 56 total appearances, including 10 in 2006 World Cup qualification (for then Serbia and Montenegro) in which the team conceded just one goal, a European qualification record. Vidic was unable to participate in the 2006 World Cup, however, because of a red card suspension plus a subsequent knee injury he suffered in training. He again led his country to an outstanding defensive record in 2010 World Cup qualification.