Vidic hails power of sport

30 July 2011 01:17
Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic is confident the power of sport can help change the perception of Serbia.

At least 130,000 people were killed as the former Yugoslavia was torn apart in wars between Serbs, Croats, Muslims and Albanians during the 1990s.

The arrest and subsequent trial of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic for crimes against humanity this year has re-opened some old wounds, whilst the arrest of guerilla leader Goran Hadzic last week was a further reminder of an horrific chapter in Balkan history.

Serbia has struggled to shake off the aggressive stereotype, and their football fans have hardly helped with violent scenes at a number of matches, including a Euro 2012 qualifier in Italy last October which had to be abandoned.

However, given the opportunity to try out his tennis skills alongside fellow countryman Viktor Troicki ahead of the Legg Mason Classic, which begins in Washington next week, Vidic expressed his belief that sport can be a force for good.

His own status as Manchester United skipper helps, but Serbia's Davis Cup win, thanks to the exploits of Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic, Nenad Zimonjic and three-time grand slam winner and current world number one Novak Djokovic, has done even more.

"Having good tennis players and winning the Davis Cup gets people talking positively about Serbia," said Vidic.

"For a long time, Serbia did not have a great reputation but in the last five years, sportsmen are coming through and representing the country in the right way.

"Sport brings people together. It is the same if England do well at something. When you play for your country, in front of your flag, it is the best moment of your life.

"It is also a big responsibility, so you have to represent your country in the right way."

Vidic has certainly done that in the five and a half years since he joined United in a £7million deal from Spartak Moscow.

It will go down as one of Sir Alex Ferguson's canniest pieces of transfer business, given Vidic is now established as one of the finest central defenders in the world.

He also has the task of steering United towards the defence of their title, while they first face the small matter of taking on Manchester City in the Community Shield at Wembley next Sunday.

A meeting with Barcelona overnight in Washington will conclude a successful five-match US tour and there are a couple of midweek engagements to fulfil before taking on the New York Cosmos in Paul Scholes' testimonial on August 5.

After that it is City, with Vidic happy preparations have gone well so far.

"We are ready," said the 29-year-old.

"We have worked well over here and have a few more games before City. I am sure we will be right for the start of the season."

Source: Team_Talk