Manchester United legendary central defender Nemanja Vidic has stated that he could not understand by his former teammate, Rio Ferdinand cried after the club won the UEFA Champions League after beating Chelsea on penalties at the Luzhniki Stadium on the 21 May 2008. United opened the scoring in the match through Cristiano Ronaldo in the 26th minute of the match only for Frank Lampard to equalise in the 45th minute. The second half had chances not nothing to change the score.
United and Chelsea went into extra time, with did not find a winner, needing a penalty shootout to make the different. Ronaldo was the only United player to miss his spot kick with John Terry slipping on the spot to allow United a way back, going into sudden death. Anderson scored United’s sixth penalty with Salomon Kalou scoring Chelsea’s. Next stepped up Ryan Giggs, who scored with Nicholas Anelka seeing his effort saved by Edwin van der Sar – United had won the Champions League again.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Ferdinand from Leeds United in the summer of 2002 for an initial fee of £29.3 million. The player sat in the office of Peter Ridsdale for six hours to get the deal pushed through. Vidic was signed from Spartak Moscow in January 2006 with Ferguson paying just £7 million for the Serbian defender. Despite the almost three-year gap, the defensive duo literally became the best defensive partnership the club had seen. Ferdinand left for Queens Park Rangers with Vidic leaving for Inter Milan both in the summer of 2014. It was the end of an era.
Those of you that experienced Vidic playing football will remember this rock hard central defender who would literally fear nothing or nobody. On winning the Champions League, he was happy but not emotional like his defensive partner. It showed you how different the pair were – like chalk and cheese but it worked. Speaking to the official Manchester United website as part of the Utd Unscripted series of articles, Vidic, speaking fondly about Ferdinand, despite the tears, said:
“Me and Rio played so many games together, but it’s the most important ones that you remember, like winning the Premier League at Wigan and Blackburn, and definitely the Champions League final against Chelsea in Moscow.
“I had forgotten, actually, until he said recently, but I had to stop Rio crying after we won the trophy! We are different in many ways!
“Rio obviously puts so much hard work into everything he does, and he had this dream to win the Champions League.
“I remember beforehand he just kept saying: ‘We have to win, we have to win, we have to win.’
“It was something he dreamed of and pushed for. When we won it, of course he was emotional. Remember the penalty shootout, that could have gone either way as well… but I have a general feeling like if you won something you should be happy, not crying.
“I just think that way. I never cried when I’m happy. He’s an emotional guy. They were just small tears, nothing major. I’d forgotten about that reaction, but it was just a moment.”
I have many fond memories of Ferdinand and Vidic at the club. They were the reason, most of the time that the club was successful during their careers at the club. Ferdinand won 14 trophies at the club, including six Premier League titles with Vidic winning 15 trophies at the club, including five Premier League titles. Winning the Champions League followed by the FIFA Club World Cup will be the best achievement of the pair though, literally reaching the pinnacle of European and World football at club level right there. Not many English clubs have done that.
Written by John Walker