Stalwart Nemanja Vidic signed up with Serie A giants Inter Milan 18 months ago following a hugely successful spell at Manchester United, but the move to Italy turned sour.
A man boasting five Premier League titles, three League Cups and one Champions League trophy from his time at Old Trafford was certain to be a sought-after figure.
Vidic eventually joined Inter in July 2014, once his United contract had expired, thus disappointing a whole host of potential suitors across Europe.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250 word test article: https://gms.to/haveyoursay5
The Serbian stopper produced inconsistent performances for the Milanese outfit, barring a fairly solid run of form midway through the campaign, but remained injury-free throughout.
Unwelcome rumours also surfaced in the background of his opening season on the peninsula suggesting that Vidic was to be sacrificed as part of a massive squad reconstruction set to begin under returning coach Roberto Mancini.
To the contrary, the centre-back continued as a regular pick during Mancini’s first six months back at the helm, starting on 14 occasions from his boss’ November 2014 appointment onwards.
He posted 23 league appearances in all, plus five more in the Europa League, despite encountering a frustrating campaign for the Nerazzurri collectively that culminated in an eight-placed Serie A finish.
It appeared Vidic had ridden out the storm with regards to the raging speculation linking him with a transfer away from Inter, a notion backed up by his agent Silvano Martina when asked if he would remain in Milan.
“I think he should, yes, because he has another two years left on his contract,” Marina announced.
“In fact, I want to reveal something.
“Last year he [Vidic] made a specific choice to come to Milan, even though Manchester United wanted to keep him and kept calling up to December.”
Therefore, it seemed safe to assume that he would remain a part of Mancini’s plans on the back of that conscious decision to stay put.
However, disaster struck when he suffered a herniated disc last August to put paid to those hopes, as Vidic found himself out of action for an estimated six months following surgery.
The 34-year-old resumed training earlier than forecast in late-December, when appearing alongside his Inter team-mates at a warm-weather camp in Qatar.
And, still, his desire to fight for a spot in the first-team squad seemed undimmed.
“The operation on my back was difficult, but now I can train without pain and this is fundamental,” said Vidic during an interview with Inter’s in-house TV channel.
“I hope I can be considered as being like a new purchase for Inter – I really want to play my part.”
Once again, such aspirations were foiled when he was finally released from his lucrative contract by mutual consent on January 18, having failed to make a single appearance all season.
That news ignited a rush of media talk over his next destination, with possible moves to the Middle East, USA and back to the English Premier League widely mooted.
Characteristics displayed throughout an eight-year spell at Manchester United such as his outstanding presence, power and leadership would have proved invaluable to many teams, not least those within the lower reaches of Europe’s biggest league competitions.
There’s no secret surrounding the many attributes Vidic could have offered any interested party, but the fact that he hadn’t featured in competitive action this term prompted a difficult decision.
Vidic simply wasn’t the same player he had been previously, thus choosing to retire from the game following his Inter departure, rather than struggle on at a club with lower ambitions than his own.
“The time has come for me to hang up my boots,” read Vidic’s official statement on ManUtd.com.
“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.”
Despite the fact he possibly could have done a steady short-term job elsewhere, it was definitely the right move for him to end his professional career at the highest level.
It's evident that there's only so much he could take, and matters obviously reached a stage where enough was enough. Why punish his body any longer after what he'd achieved?
Aside from his rather disappointing time at Inter, Vidic will be fondly remembered at Manchester United, where he formed one of the best defensive partnerships witnessed in Premier League history alongside Rio Ferdinand during a glittering period at Old Trafford.