Thursday, July 14, 2011

Merci Pat...Vieira hangs up the boots

Not a surprise but Pat Vieira has announced his retirement today, how appropriate on Bastille day! What a remarkable career for one of the most elegant and powerful "box to box" midfielders the game has seen. Vieira will be most remembered for his days patrolling the midfield for the Gunners. He played 371 games for the Gunners, scored 32 goals, won 3 Premiership Titles, 3 FA Cups and was part of the invincibles. He will also be remembered for his battles with Manchester United's Keane.

One of my favorite pre-game tunnel bust up. Neither player would back down in these confrontations...too bad Arsenal do not have some of that bite anymore. Maybe Cesc can start yelling at Ferdinand next time Arsenal play Manchester United (assuming Cesc is still on Arsenal and Ferdinand is healthy...two BIG ifs).

To me Vieira was France's greatest holding/defensive midfielder. Not only was he a crunching tackler and enforcer in the middle of the park, but he could chip in big goals, was clinical with his passing and was a true "box to box" midfielder.

One aspect overlooked was his leadership at the 2006 Germany World Cup when he stepped in to carry the team when Zidane was suspended. He scored the opening goal versus Togo to get France on its way to the run to the finals. He also latched on to a Zidane free kick late in the Spain 1/4 match to give Les Bleus the lead, and sprung Ribery end of the first half to score the tying goal.

I will always contend that it was his injury and need to be substituted out of the finals that was the real turning point for the match - he would have been one of the penalty kickers and having a healthy Vieira finish out that game might have sprung the goal that France seemed destined to getting before the head butt! I am also certain that he was not in the planned substitutions and took away one of the substitution options late in the game. Alas his hamstrings had other ideas for Les Bleus.

Vieira has been one of my favorite players to watch. His combination of pace, power, skill and toughness were invaluable for both club and country.

Merci Pat. Too bad Arsenal could not have bottled some of that leadership to be used the past few seasons.


josemanes said...

great career for clubs and country...but i could have done without the 2006 wc spain-france highlights...thanks Guy....

GFC said...

Hahaaa, sorry had to bring up 2006...but Espana got theirs 2 years later at the Euros and then 4 years later at the WC!

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