Patrick Vieira Profile
|Born||Jun 23, 1976|
One of the great midfielders of the Premier League era and captain of Arsenal's famous 'Invincibles,' Patrick Vieira has now moved into management following the end of an illustrious playing career.
Patrick Vieira is a Senegalese-born French former soccer player and current coach. He was most recently the head coach of French Ligue 1 club OGC Nice. During his playing career, he pulled on the shirt for several of the biggest clubs in Europe, taking in spells at AC Milan, Arsenal, Juventus, Inter Milan and Manchester City. However, it is his stint with Arsenal for which he is most famous.
Vieira captained Arsenal from midfield and played an instrumental part in winning seven major trophies while with the Gunners.
Vieira won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with the Gunners, before moving to Italy and winning four Serie A titles in a row with Inter Milan - and was involved in Inter's 2009/10 UEFA Champions League triumph, as well as France's 1998 World Cup-winning squad.
Earning legendary status at Arsenal
Vieira signed for Arsenal for a reported Â£3.5million in 1996 as they beat Ajax to his signature. Vieira later revealed that his move to the Gunners was largely motivated by knowing that Arsene Wenger would be the next Arsenal manager.
The midfielder got off to a solid start at the Gunners, and after Wenger took charge in September 1996, he put the team firmly on an upward trajectory towards a successful period for the club.
In 1997/98, Wenger led Arsenal to a Premier League and FA Cup double, with Vieira's midfield partnership with Emmanuel Petit proving instrumental for the Gunners. The pair made the PFA Team of the Year in 1998/99, despite missing out on the title by just one point to Manchester United.
In 2001/02, Vieira played a key role in Arsenal winning another league and FA Cup double. After Tony Adams retired in May 2002, Vieira became the club's captain.
Vieira missed the 2003 FA Cup final due to injury, but Arsenal were able to lift the prize in his absence. The following season, the Gunners became the first ever champions to go a whole Premier League season unbeaten. They were thus known as the "Invincibles" and are widely hailed as one of the greatest Premier League squads of all time. Arsenal won 26 games and drew 12, picking up 90 points.
As captain, Vieira would be handed a special gold trophy commissioned by the Premier League to mark the first unbeaten season by a top-level English team for over a century.
The Frenchman was an integral part of the team that would keep their unbeaten run going into the following season, with an incredible 49 Premier League games without a defeat coming to an end with a 2-0 loss against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The 2004/05 season was Vieira's last for Arsenal and his last kick of the ball saw him score the winning penalty in an FA Cup final shootout against Manchester United - which was not a bad way of saying goodbye to his adoring supporters in North London.
Patrick Vieira vs Roy Keane
During his time at Arsenal, Vieira developed a fierce rivalry with his midfield counterpart, then-Manchester United captain Roy Keane. They played out some tremendous battles on the pitch, and at times, the tension spilled over off it.
Infamously, in the build-up to a match at Highbury between United and Arsenal in 2005, Vieira got involved in a tunnel bust-up with Keane. According to Keane, he was sticking up for Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville, who he felt was being intimidated by the likes of Vieira and Martin Keown.
"People look back on my careerâ€¦ I wasn't really into that argy-bargy stuff in the tunnels and threatening people. It wasn't my scene," Keane told Off The Ball.
"But when I see lads almost picking on somebody - and I don't just mean on Nev. There were three or four of them, Martin Keown and people like that.
"That irritated me. It was more the bullying than getting stuck into each other on the pitch. I think if you have any aggro with anybody, you bring it out onto the pitch."
Vieira and Keane appeared to reconcile in a 2013 documentary titled "Keane & Vieira: Best of Enemies" where they met and discussed their past battles.
Global success with France
Vieira played 107 times for the French national team between 1997 and 2009, scoring six goals and becoming one of just eight players in history to have reached a century of caps for Les Bleus in the process.
He was a key part of the squad which won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and set up Arsenal team-mate Emmanuel Petit for one of the goals in the 3-0 final victory over Brazil.
As a result, Vieira and his teammates were all given the prestigious Legion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) award - France's highest civilian honour, equivalent to a knighthood in the UK.
The French team would then follow up their global success by beating Italy to win EURO 2000, with Vieira starring in midfield throughout the tournament.
Vieira would help France to another World Cup final in 2006 (eventually losing to Italy on penalties), before calling time on a glittering international career in 2010.
Moving into management
After retiring from playing football in 2011, Vieira went from player to football development executive at Manchester City. Two years later, he was appointed as manager of the club's reserve team, the Elite Development Squad.
In November 2015, Vieira was appointed as head coach of New York City FC (NYCFC), another member of the City Football Group. From 17th in 2015, NYCFC moved up to fourth in 2016 and second in 2017 under Vieira's watch.
In June 2018, Vieira left NYCFC to become the new manager of OGC Nice in Ligue 1. Nice finished seventh in 2018/19, a one-place improvement on the previous season under Lucien Favre. In 2019/20, a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, Nice finished fifth.
In December 2019, Vieira addressed speculation linking him with the then-vacant Arsenal head coaching job following Unai Emery's departure.
"You know, a club that you spend nine years in, cannot leave you unmoved," he told Canal+.
"But sincerely and honestly, I am concentrated on and in this project with Nice. I have always said it and I repeat it again for you now, I feel very good here.
"It is a truly very exciting project and I want to succeed in this project."
Ultimately, the Arsenal job went to another former Gunners player, Mikel Arteta, who was previously Pep Guardiola's assistant at Manchester City.
Early in the 2020/21 season, though, Vieira's Nice suffered a poor run of form, which led to calls for the former Arsenal skipper to be sacked. His contract was set to expire in June 2021 and the club ultimately relieved him of his duties on 4 December 2020, with Nice sitting 11th in Ligue 1.
Vieira suffered racism throughout his professional career. Most infamously, he was on the receiving end of racist abuse from opponent Sinisa Mihajlovic during a UEFA Champions League match between Lazio and Arsenal in 2000. Mihajlovic admitted to abusing Vieira, but claimed he was provoked.
In 2003, Vieira was fined for criticising UEFA's leniency when dealing with racism following abuse he suffered at the hands of Valencia supporters while playing for Arsenal in another Champions League clash.
In 2014, while at Manchester City, he took his players off in a pre-season friendly due to alleged racist abuse.
Vieira married Cheryl Plaza in 2005.
It is not completely clear how much Vieira is worth. In 2014, he won the right to demolish his Â£3million Hampstead mansion and build a new one in its place. This process was initiated due to a damp problem, as per the Evening Standard.