Patrick Vieira was Arsenals midfield general in a hugely successful side of the mid-nineties/early 2000s and lead the Gunners for almost a decade.
Senegalese by birth, Vieira moved to France at a young age.
He was just seventeen when he made his debut with AS Cannes and within two years, he was skippering the Ligue One outfit.
Patrick was taken to AC Milan but the rookie was afforded limited game time and only made two league appearances.
Move to Arsenal
Arsenal were making rapid changes on and off the pitch having finished trophyless in 1995/96.Vieira was one of the new additions brought to Highbury and he quickly made progress.
Within months, the all-action midfielder had won over supporters at Highbury, bringing strength, variety and intelligence to the Arsenal ranks (www.nationalfootballmuseum.com)
Patrick’s combative style of play brought him many admirers but also led to him having a number of disciplinary issues. He soon developed though into a leader and soon began captaining the side after the retirement of Tony Adams.
Roy Keane was to say about him that;
“ON HIS DAY, WHEN HE WAS DRIVING ARSENAL ON WITH THE SHEER FORCE OF HIS PERSONALITY, HE WAS UNPLAYABLE.” (ibid)
Under his leadership, Arsenal led a successful campaign of defending the FA Cup in 2003.Winning was everything and he led the team through the 03/04 season unbeaten.
Vieira V Keane
One of the most exciting on/off pitch battles was with Man Uniteds fiery midfielder Roy Keane. United were Arsenal’s arch rivals and on one occasion Vieira’s tunnel bust up with Keane led to one of the Premier League’s greatest ever sporting battles.
Vieira should have finished his career with the Gunnars but the Frenchman joined Juventus in 2005 and then moved on to Inter Milan.
Return to England and Management
Vieira eventually returned to England and ended his career with Manchester City.He made 400 appearances in the red and white jersey and lifted eleven trophies (including four Charity Shields).
Now manager of Nice he could potentially be using it as a stepping stone before a bigger club recognises his talent and appoints.
Vieira is considered to be one of the most influential midfielders to ever wear an Arsenal shirt.
Since the birth of the Premier League he isone of the greatest players of the Premier League era (www.nationalfootballmuseum.com)