Vidic revelling in cult hero status

Last updated at 16:57 18 May 2007


Nemanja Vidic is revelling in his cult-hero status at Manchester United - but laughingly insists he is no killer.

After a difficult start to his United career, the tough-tackling Serbian has

become a firm favourite with Red Devils fans, who love his no-nonsense approach

to defending.

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Nemanja Vidic

Vidic's central defensive partnership with Rio Ferdinand is widely acknowledged

to be the best in the Premiership and the Stretford End have already come up

with a song in his honour, which ends with the line 'he will murder you'.

English may not be the easiest language for someone whose footballing career

has taken him to two places - Belgrade and Moscow - where the Cyrillic alphabet

is used.

But Vidic has mastered enough to understand the words completely.

"I know the words," he smiled.

"I think the fans appreciate the way I play. I think they recognise I give

100% all the time.

"I want to win and do my best no matter what. I really thank them for their

support - but I am not a killer."

Vidic holds a rare place in United's history as probably the only player they

have signed on Christmas Day.

The announcement of a £7million deal to lure the 25-year-old from Spartak

Moscow caught most observers on the hop.

As a member of Serbia's 'Famous Four' defence, who had secured World Cup

qualification without conceding a goal, Vidic came to Old Trafford highly

recommended.

But soon, the critics were wondering what all the fuss was about as Vidic

turned in a series of unimpressive performances which meant his appearance in

last year's Carling Cup final win over Wigan was limited to a mere seven minutes

as a substitute.

"My first couple of months in England were very difficult," he said.

"To be honest, I didn't think I had a future here.

"The football is so different and I just lost my confidence. It was almost

like I had forgotten how to play.

"I missed passes I had never missed before and I did worry I was not going to

make it here.

"Had it not been for the support of the coaches, I would have found it very

hard. But to play at Manchester United, you need to be strong in the head and

gradually I started to improve and feel more confident.

"When I look back at how I felt then to how I feel now, I am really happy."

The effectiveness with which Vidic carries out his duties against Chelsea at

Wembley tomorrow could be the determining factor in who lifts the first FA Cup

to be contested at the competition's spiritual home in seven seasons.

With so many injuries, if Chelsea danger man Didier Drogba can be subdued,

United will feel they are well on the way to recording an unprecedented fourth

domestic double.

Vidic accepts Drogba is a class act, although he will not afford the muscular

Ivory Coast forward any special treatment.

"Drogba is a great player," he said.

"He has scored a lot of goals this season and it is hard to play against him.

"But Chelsea have other good players too, so I will just prepare as I would

normally.

"If you play for the biggest club, everyone wants to beat you.

"It doesn't matter whether it is Chelsea or Wigan, I always regard my opponent

as the best player in the world. If you think that way, you will always give

your maximum."

After missing the World Cup with a knee injury, Vidic faced the agony of

sitting out this weekend's showpiece as well when he broke his collarbone in an

awkward fall against Blackburn on March 31.

The initial diagnosis of a two-month absence would effectively have ended

Vidic's season.

Thankfully, the estimates proved incorrect, although the Uzice-born star

admitted he was worried for a while.

"I was scared I was going to miss the most important games of the season," he

said.

"I knew I had to push myself to get back as quickly as I could.

"Fortunately, I managed to recover to be able to play in the last couple of

games in the Premiership. Hopefully, we can win the FA Cup as well."

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