Patrick Vieira is a former footballer. A former midfielder, Vieira began his career with French club Cannes in 1994. He moved to Italian side Milan the following season, but was unable to break into the starting line-up, and was subsequently sold. He rose to prominence during a hugely successful spell at Arsenal from 1996 to 2005, where he eventually became club captain, and won three Premier League titles – one unbeaten – and four FA Cups. He transferred from Arsenal in 2005 and spent one season at Juventus, helping the team to the Serie A championship. Following Juventus’ relegation for their part in a match-fixing scandal, Vieira moved to Internazionale and won three Serie A titles, before moving to Manchester City for two seasons, where he retired in 2011 after adding another FA Cup winners’ medal to his personal honours. At international level, Vieira obtained 107 caps for France, and was part of their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000-winning sides; he was also a member of the French team that finished runners-up in the 2006 World Cup. In May 2010, Vieira was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Vieira spent two seasons as Football Development Executive at Manchester City with a role to oversee aspects such as youth development, commercial partners and the club’s social responsibility programme, “City in the Community”.
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For the second consecutive season Arsenal failed to progress past the group stage of the UEFA Champions League; a third-place finish, however, earnt them a consolation place in the UEFA Cup. Arsenal eventually reached the final to play Galatasaray in Copenhagen – the match was overshadowed by altercations between both sets of supporters. Arsenal lost 4–1 on penalties after a goalless draw.
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Vieira’s family moved from Senegal to Dreux, France, when he was eight, and he did not return to Senegal until 2003. His parents divorced when Vieira was young, and he never met his father again. His grandfather served in the French Army, making him eligible for French nationality at birth. His surname Vieira, which is Portuguese, is his mother’s maiden name, who is from Cape Verde.
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Vieira was a complete, powerful, tenacious and aggressive footballer, with outstanding physical, athletic and technical attributes. Usually deployed as a defensive, central, or box-to-box midfielder, he was a competent tackler, and a tactically intelligent midfielder, gifted with good ball skills, distribution and vision, which enabled him to start attacking plays in midfield after winning back possession; he also excelled in the air, and was known for his surging forward runs from midfield, which enabled him to contribute to his team’s offensive play. These attributes, in addition to his pace, strength, pressing ability and stamina, allowed him to link up the defence with the attack effectively, and made him capable of playing anywhere in midfield. In 2007, The Times placed him at number 33 in their list of the 50 hardest footballers in history.