Nemanja Vidic is in the conversation to be labelled the finest defender of the Premier League era.
The Serbian centre-back transformed Manchester United’s defence after joining from Spartak Moscow in 2006 for just £7 million, establishing a brilliant partnership with Rio Ferdinand.
Vidic was a real no-nonsense defender who always put his body on the line for the benefit of the team.
He wasn’t the greatest with the ball at his feet, but when it came to the pragmatic side of the game, Vidic was head and shoulders above everyone else.
His tackling ability was second to none and in 2013, the two-time winner of the Premier League Player of the Season award produced arguably the finest challenge of his career.
Kyle Walker was the Serbian’s victim and the English right-back went absolutely flying when Vidic firmly – but fairly – snatched the ball off of him.
What. A. Tackle.
“I love how Walker bounced off Vidic like he got hit by a car, while Vidic barely moved,” one fan replied to footage of the challenge.
Another added: “You see him slow down so he can get man and ball, what a legend!”
A third quipped: “Respect for both players there, Walker didn’t back down and he for sure knew Vidic wasn’t backing down.”
Vidic won the ball cleanly and Walker – despite being made to do a somersault by the sheer force of the challenge – did not complain one bit, which is exactly how it should be.
Back in 2016, Vidic was asked by a fan whether the tackle on Walker was indeed the finest of his illustrious career.
“I don’t remember all of my tackles – I was sometimes playing with concussion – but I remember that one,” he said, per FourFourTwo.
“Kyle went honestly for the ball and so did I. It’s why I like that challenge: it doesn’t matter who won; what mattered is that we both went for the ball. I love that about English football and hope it never changes.”
Annoyingly, the snippet of defensive genius from Vidic would probably be deemed a foul these days and if VAR had been available in 2013, the United legend may have been sent off as well.
It would have been a travesty, but thankfully that didn’t happen and it means we’re able to appreciate the tackle in all its glory in the present day.