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Patrick Vieira (born 23 June 1976 in Dakarmarker) is a Senegalesemarker-born Frenchmarker footballer who plays as a midfielder for Serie A club Internazionale and the French national team.

He came to prominence during his stint at Arsenal from 1996 to 2005, where he won three Premier League titles - one unbeaten - and four FA Cups, eventually becoming club captain. After leaving Arsenal in 2005, he spent one season at Juventus before joining Internazionale in 2006, following Juventus' relegation for their part in a match-fixing scandal. He has 107 caps for France, and was part of their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000-winning sides.

In August 2008, Vieira was ranked the fifth greatest Arsenal player of all-time in a fan poll conducted on the club's official website..

Club career

Early career

Born in the Christian Cape Verdeanmarker community, Vieira's family moved to Dreuxmarker when he was 8 and he did not return to Senegal until 2003. Vieira first played for Cannes, where he made his debut at the age of 17 and captained the team aged only 19. Soon after, in Summer 1995, he was snapped up by Italian giants Milan, though he played mainly in the reserves and made only two first team appearances.

Arsenal

In September 1996, the incoming Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger requested Vieira's purchase from Milan prior to taking up his position. Vieira was signed for £3.5 million, a figure which would be deemed a bargain in years to come. His height, stamina and physical strength allowed him to settle into the English game quickly, while his composure and the quality of his passing cemented his position as an integral part of Wenger's stylish attacking side. Forming a powerful midfield partnership with French compatriot Emmanuel Petit, Vieira won the Premiership and FA Cup Double in 1998, his first full season at the club. That summer, he was called up to France's 1998 World Cup squad.

Vieira's early years at Arsenal were beset by disciplinary problems. In the 2000–01 season, he was sent off twice in two consecutive matches (the opening matches of the season), though after returning he did not receive another card for 28 matches. In all, he has been sent off twelve times in his career: nine times with Arsenal and once each with Juventus, France and Internazionale.

Vieira would go on to win Euro 2000 with France, as well as a second Double with Arsenal in 2002. He also played in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final. Arsenal lost the Final to Turkishmarker side Galatasaray on penalties, with Vieira missing his. After Tony Adams's retirement in 2002, Vieira (already vice-captain) became club captain, since which his disciplinary problems cooled significantly. Though he missed Arsenal's 2003 FA Cup Final win with injury and therefore did not qualify for a winner's medal, Vieira lifted the trophy jointly with captain for the day David Seaman.

In 2003–04 at Arsenal, he captained the side on a historic unbeaten season in the Premier League. At the beginning of this campaign he was in and out of the side because of a hamstring injury, with Ray Parlour replacing him in the side. However, Vieira returned for the Champions League match against Lokomotiv Moscow, with the Gunners winning 2-0 and qualifying for the 1st Knockout round.

Transfer speculation

Vieira's performances for Arsenal resulted in continued rumours regarding his future. At the close of the 2002–03 and 2003–04 seasons, he was strongly linked with a move to Spanish team Real Madrid. It was reported that despite Arsenal's Premiership and FA Cup victories (in addition to winning the World Cup and European Championship, all before the age of 25), Vieira was frustrated by his club's lack of continental success and the UEFA Champions League was the one honour that eluded him. Vieira had considered leaving during Arsenal's trophy drought in 2000 and 2001, and again in 2004 when Arsenal's board opted to continue their policy of scouting for young talent rather than shopping in the transfer market.

Vieira's future continues to be a matter for speculation. Arsenal are reportedly keen to offer Vieira a pay-as-you-play deal to recapture the iconic midfielder who would no doubt be a huge hit with the Arsenal faithful once again.

2004-05 season and Madrid speculation

In 2004, Arsenal accepted a bid reported to be worth £23 million from Real Madrid, but Vieira turned down Real's contract offer. Following Real's unsuccessful approach, Vieira remained Arsenal's captain for the 2004–05 season, during which the club broke Nottingham Forest's record for the number of games unbeaten in the Premiership. Vieira made a solid start to the season but wasn't in sparkling form. Arsenal had passed the record and were 49 games unbeaten and were 1st with 25 points from a possible 27. They were 49 and out when they lost to Manchester United, Vieira's and Arsenal's form decreased with draws against relegation candidates Southampton, Crystal Palace and West Brom which saw them fall to 2nd.

Vieira scored his first goal of the season in a topsy-turvy North London derby which Arsenal won 5-4. Vieira scored his second goal of the season in vain as Arsenal lost to a weakened Liverpool. Chelsea were starting to sail away with the title and Arsenal were struggling to keep up with Chelsea despite a creditable 2-2 draw with the league leaders. Arsenal then suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Bolton before Manchester United completed the double over Arsenal with a 4-2 win at Highburymarker which Vieira scored the opening goal. Arsenal fell to 3rd but improved to take 2nd ahead of United. Arsenal also finished with impressive home wins against 5th place Liverpool and 4th place Everton with Vieira scoring against Everton in a massive 7-0 win.

Vieira scored in the 4th round of the FA Cup 2004-05 in a 2-0 win against Wolves. In the 2005 FA Cup Final he scored the winning penalty in a penalty shoot-out after a 0-0 draw with Manchester United. Renewed speculation about Vieira's future emerged at the conclusion of the season, and the cup victory ultimately proved to be his final game for Arsenal.

Exit from Arsenal

On July 14, 2005, Arsenal accepted a bid of £18 million from Italian giants Juventus and Vieira agreed a five-year contract with the Serie A side the following day. One of the reasons for his transfer was also the emergence of teenager Cesc Fàbregas, who had played in place of Vieira when the latter was injured.

In total, Vieira played 407 times for Arsenal and scored 34 times. In his time at Arsenal, Vieira appeared in the PFA team of the year six years in a row from the 1998–99 season up to the 2003–04 season.

He returned to Arsenal for one game on July 22, 2006 in a testimonial for Dennis Bergkamp as one of the Arsenal legends against Ajax legends. Despite his departure, Vieira has remained a favourite among Arsenal fans. An image of him sits alongside 14 other past and present Arsenal greats in "The Armoury", the club's shop at the Emirates Stadiummarker.

Juventus

After Vieira's move to Juventus, then-Juventus manager Fabio Capello used Vieira in a midfield consisting of Brazilianmarker Emerson and Czechmarker Pavel Nedvěd. He helped Juventus to record their best ever start to a league season. Despite his performances dipping as the result of a persistent groin injury and a reported training ground bust-up with team mate Zlatan Ibrahimović, Vieira helped Juventus retain the Italian Championship.

In a twist of fate, Vieira returned to Highbury on March 28, 2006 to play against Arsenal in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Arsenal won 2–0 on aggregate, scoring twice in the first leg. Vieira received a yellow card in the first leg match at Highbury and was suspended for the return leg on April 5, 2006. During the first leg he was the subject of a strong tackle by former club and national team mate Robert Pires. Vieira was left crestfallen as Pires regained possession and Arsenal attacked, scoring the first goal of the tie through Cesc Fàbregas. Pires humorously quipped that it was the first time in 13 years he had got the better of Vieira physically.

Internazionale

Juventus were stripped of their and 2004-05 and 2005–06 titles after it was revealed they were involved in a match-fixing scandal. Juventus were relegated to Serie B and deducted 17 points by the Italian Football Federation for their involvement, prompting many of the club's major stars to move elsewhere. After press speculation linking him to various clubs, including Arsenal and Manchester United, on August 2, 2006 Vieira officially signed a 4 year-deal for Internazionale in a deal reported to be worth €9.5m, less than half the €20m fee Juventus had paid just 12 months prior.

In his first season at Inter, he added to his trophy cabinet the Italian Super Cup (scoring a brace in that game) as well as the 2006–07, 2007–08 and 2008-09 Serie A titles.

In response to extensive media speculation regarding a possible return by Vieira to his former club in 2009, Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger admitted that he would contemplate re-signing Vieira.

International career

While at Arsenal, despite being born in Senegal and ethnically being of Senegal origin, Vieira chose to make his debut for France in 1997 against the Netherlands. He was part of the France squad in the 1998 FIFA World Cup. He came on as a substitute in the final against Brazil, and set up Emmanuel Petit for France's third goal in a 3–0 win. He, with the rest of the squad, received Légion d'honneur, France's highest decoration, in 1998.

He subsequently played as a first choice midfield player in France's successful campaign in Euro 2000, which they won, beating Italy in the final. He helped France to victory in the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, ending the tournament as joint top scorer with two goals, including the winner in the final against Japan. He also played in all three games in the FIFA World Cup 2002, in which France were eliminated in the group stage, failing to score a goal. He was injured and missed France's defeat to Greece at Euro 2004.

Vieira was appointed France's national team captain on Zinédine Zidane's retirement from international football. Nonetheless, he and veteran defender Lilian Thuram were instrumental in convincing Zidane to end his retirement and help the flagging campaign to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Vieira even handed back the captaincy of the team to Zidane.

On June 23, 2006, his 30th birthday, Vieira took the captain's armband for the match in place of the suspended playmaker Zidane, whom he shared the birthday with, scoring the first goal when France defeated Togo 2–0 in the group stages of the FIFA World Cup 2006; Vieira set up Thierry Henry for France's second. This win helped France advance to the knockout stages, coming second behind Switzerland, and it prolonged Zidane's international career. In the round of sixteen, Vieira scored the second goal in France's 3-1 defeat of Spain; France went on to beat favourites Brazil 1–0 in the quarter-finals, and Portugal by the same score in the semi-finals, which gave them a place in the final against Italy. Vieira was one of the best midfielders at the tournament with a string of fine dominant performances. Vieira has received criticism in the past over his international performances, with both fans and pundits commenting that he does not play for France as he did for Arsenal, Thierry Henry has also received similar criticism in the past. Having played in every match up to the final, Vieira started the match but was substituted due to injury in the second half, likely sustained when he collided with Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro. Italy won 5–3 on penalties after the game finished 1-1 after extra time. As of November 23, 2006 Vieira has appeared 100 times for France, scoring 6 goals.

On August 5, 2006 Vieira was reappointed captain of the French national team for the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. However, he played no part in the group games at Euro 2008 for a struggling France due to a niggling knee injury.

Career statistics



Honours

Arsenal

Winner Runner-up

Juventus



Internazionale

Winner

International

Winner Runner-up

Individual



Orders and special awards



Personal life

Vieira and his Trinidadianmarker wife, Cheryl, first met in England while he was playing for Arsenal.

References

External links




1993-94 Cannes Division 1 5 0 - - 5 0
1994-95 31 2 - 4 1 35 3
1995-96 13 0 - - 13 0

1995-96 Milan Serie A 2 0 - 2 0 4 0

1996-97 Arsenal Premier League 31 2 5 0 1 0 37 2
1997-98 33 2 4 0 2 0 39 2
1998-99 34 3 5 0 3 0 42 3
1999-00 30 2 16 0 14 0 60 2
2000-01 30 6 14 2 12 0 56 8
2001-02 36 2 12 1 11 1 59 4
2002-03 24 3 6 1 12 1 42 5
2003-04 29 3 10 0 7 0 46 3
2004-05 32 6 7 1 6 0 45 6

2005-06 Juventus Serie A 31 5 5 2 7 0 43 7
2006-07 Internazionale Serie A 20 1 - 4 1 24 2
2007-08 16 3 2 0 3 0 21 3
2008-09 15 1 2 0 17 1
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