Nemanja Vidic is one of the greatest players in Manchester United history.
Finishing his career with five Premier League titles, two League Cups, a Champions League trophy and FIFA Club World Cup triumph, Vidic was revered as one of the best in the business.
Besides, he’s the only defender in Premier League history to be crowned the competition’s Player of the Year twice and he achieved it within the space of three seasons for good measure.
Vidic vs Torres
However, even a colossus like Vidic isn’t capable of stopping every striker in the business and it’s always fascinating to hear who the greatest defenders considered their trickiest opponents.
As far as Vidic is concerned, many would imagine that Fernando Torres would be the striker he’d name as his kryptonite after struggling against the Liverpool icon on multiple occasions.
But when the man himself was asked about his greatest adversaries in late 2019, there was no mention of ‘El Nino’ with four other of his Premier League rivals getting the nod.
Vidic’s toughest opponents
Vidic said to The Athletic: “My first experience was Peter Crouch. I’d never seen a two-metres tall player before. He played for Liverpool and we played them in a cup game at Anfield.
“I was thinking ‘Wow, what can I do today with this guy?’
“Then I saw Bellamy next to him, not a great player on the ball but very, very fast. He would run into space, Crouch would jump into the air. I’d never seen football played like this.
“I’d never had a No9 and a sharp, fast, player next to him. I knew how to deal with them individually but not both of them at the same time. I played alongside Wes Brown, it was a tough game, a long game. We lost 1-0.”
Vidic then added Didier Drogba to his list, explaining: “He was a very clever player who would get into the brain of the defenders. He was strong, but he was always thinking ahead.
“He would think, ‘If the defender pushes me now I will go down’ or ‘Next time I will go strong’
“He scored so many important goals, he was very consistent. I played against him when we were both at the peak of our careers.”
And rounded off his selections by saying: “I’m convinced that Aguero was born as a defender. He knows where the ball will come and where he can attack.
“I played against him when they beat us 4-1 in the Moyes season.
“[Suarez is] an energetic player. He’s different from Aguero who doesn’t run for 90 minutes – he’s a player who uses instinct. Everything is done in bursts. I don’t think he knows exactly what he’s doing but he succeeds.
“The ball will go through a defender’s legs and people will think it’s an accident, but he has this sheer force to do it.”
A quartet of top strikers
To be fair, I think we can all agree that Aguero, Drogba, Suarez and Crouch sound like an absolute handful and were all built for success in the Premier League for a variety of reasons.
And it’s a huge compliment to them because Vidic was one of the most physically talented players the Premier League has ever seen, so you’re doing something well if you’re giving him trouble.
That being said, the more we watch back Torres leaving Vidic flat on his face at Old Trafford, the more we think it’s slightly suspicious that the Spanish striker didn’t get a mention…