Nemanja Vidic has hailed the unseen impact of Edwin van der Sar on his partnership with Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the Manchester United defence.
Vidic and Ferdinand struck up an iconic partnership in the United backline under Sir Alex Ferguson, winning five Premier League titles together and making a combined 755 appearances for the club.
But the Serb insists they were only as good as they were because of the performances of the Dutch goalkeeper behind them and his ability to make his central defenders feel at ease.
“So much is said about the partnership Rio and I had, but I have to mention the role that Edwin played in our relationship. He was a big part of it,” Vidic told the United website.
“He was experienced, really good on the ball and he was always there as well. He could see the whole pitch and he was there to help. If I didn’t see something or Rio didn’t see something, he was there to help.
“What’s important with Ed, he was 34 or 35 when he came to United, I think, so he already had so much experience. What’s important for us as defenders is to trust your goalkeeper, and we trusted Ed.
“It doesn’t matter where the player is shooting from. If he’s outside the box, you’re not worried that much. You let him shoot because you know Ed will cover that.
“We worked on that too and Ed was good at it, especially in the beginning when we started. Those experienced players give you that calmness that you need in certain situations and Ed was great at it.”
Van der Sar signed for United in 2005 and went on to make 266 appearances for the club, with Vidic hailing his communication and positioning as vital attributes.
“Communication and calmness was a huge part of Ed’s game. He would always put himself in the position where he had to be. He really was great at that,” he said.
“With the size of him, if he put himself in a good position then it’s very difficult to score against him. He’s not a small goalkeeper who’s going to fly two metres to keep out shots in the corner – he did do that sometimes, in the Champions League especially – but almost all the time he’s the person who’s going to be in the right position at the right time.
“He was a big part. A lot of people forget how good he was and how important he was for our team at that time, and especially for me and Rio.”