Vieira as New York City head coach in 2016
|Full name||Patrick Vieira|
|Date of birth||23 June 1976|
|Place of birth||Dakar, Senegal|
|Height||1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|2016–2018||New York City|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only
Considered one of the best players of his generation, Vieira began his career at Cannes in 1994, where several standout performances in his debut season garnered him a move to Serie A club Milan a year later. His single season in Italy was marred due to limited playing time, and he featured mainly for the reserve team. This allowed him to relocate to England, in order to join countryman Arsène Wenger at Arsenal, for a fee of £3.5 million in 1996.
During his nine-year stint in the Premier League, Vieira established himself as a dominating box-to-box midfielder, noted for his aggressive and highly competitive style of play, an attitude that also helped him excel as captain of the club from 2002 until his departure in 2005. He helped Arsenal achieve a sustained period of success during his time at the club, where he lifted three FA Cups and three league titles, including one unbeaten. He then returned to Italy, playing for Juventus, but quickly departed after the club sustained relegation for their part in a match-fixing scandal. He then signed for Internazionale, where he won three league titles, before featuring for Manchester City, where he won another FA Cup before retiring in 2011.
Vieira featured at senior level for much of his international career, representing France over a period of 12 years, where he also spent some part as captain. He played in the final in his nation's victorious campaign at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, and featured heavily as the team also won Euro 2000. Despite also playing a key role in the side that finished runners-up in the 2006 World Cup, Vieira was used sparingly by France in the latter stages of his career, and he retired from international competition in 2010, after amassing 107 appearances for the side.
Following retirement, Vieira transitioned into coaching, where he took charge of the academy at Manchester City in 2013. He would depart two years later, after signing for sister club New York City. His arrival in Major League Soccer (MLS) saw the team adopt a free-flowing, attacking, press-based system, which gained him many plaudits, and garnered him a move back to his homeland to manage Ligue 1 club Nice in 2018, marking his first managerial role in Europe.
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 the maiden name of his mother, who is from Cape Verde.
In the summer of 1995, he was signed by Italian giants A.C. Milan, though he played mainly in the reserves and made just two first-team appearances for the club.
On 10 August 1996, the Daily Mirror reported that Vieira was subject to a move to English club Arsenal, given personal terms with original suitors Ajax were not reached. He joined Arsenal four days later in a £3.5 million move. The peculiarity of Vieira and fellow Frenchman Rémi Garde arriving at the club, coupled with manager Bruce Rioch's dismissal before the season had begun, suggested that Arsenal was managed by exterior influence. Vieira later revealed he signed for Arsenal because his compatriot Arsène Wenger was going to be the club’s next manager: "I am delighted to be joining Arsenal at the same time as Mr Wenger becomes their coach. Being able to speak French to him will make life a lot easier for me." Wenger was officially in command of managerial affairs at Arsenal by the start of October, but Vieira had already made his mark, coming on as a substitute against Sheffield Wednesday on 16 September 1996; The Times described him as a "thinking man's Carlton Palmer … who, at last, gives the Arsenal midfield some variety."
Vieira made his full debut against Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, three days after. He scored his first goal for the club against Derby County on 8 December 1996 – a late equaliser in a 2–2 draw. His performances for Arsenal in the subsequent months made him a fans’ favourite and was lauded as "…the playmaker Arsenal have sought since Paul Davis pulled the strings in the 1991 championship-winning team." Davis himself noted that in the matches Vieira was suspended during the Christmas period, Arsenal struggled to win. He ended his first season with 38 appearances in total and Arsenal finished in third place, missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League via goal difference.
Vieira's partnership with international teammate Emmanuel Petit the following season was instrumental in helping Arsenal complete a domestic league and cup double. Vieira scored his first goal of the campaign against Manchester United in a 3–2 victory on 9 November 1997. Vieira, however, twisted his knee during the match and was ruled out from playing for a month. He returned for the trip at Wimbledon on 22 December 1997, which was postponed due to floodlight problems. In a game against Coventry City on 16 January 1998, Vieira received his first red card for using "foul and abusive language" at referee Stephen Lodge. Vieira was again dismissed a month later, this time in a League Cup semi-final against Chelsea, a decision which Wenger described as "absolutely ridiculous." Towards the finishing straight of the campaign, Vieira helped Arsenal make ground on league leaders Manchester United and his card record had improved, "…with only one booking in the latter stages of the season". After a successful World Cup campaign with the national team, Vieira had another productive season at Arsenal in 1998–99. Although Arsenal failed to retain the Premier League, Vieira’s endeavour was rewarded – he was named in the PFA Team of the Year alongside Petit.
Against West Ham United on 2 October 1999, Vieira was sent off for a second booking, after fouling striker Paolo Di Canio. Moments after, he spat at Neil Ruddock, who walked into him and was dragged off the pitch by officials. Vieira was subsequently charged, banned for six matches and fined a record £45,000 by The Football Association (FA). The season ended in disappointment for both Vieira and Arsenal, as the team finished 18 points behind champions Manchester United, in second place. Arsenal reached the 2000 UEFA Cup Final, which Vieira played but the team lost the match on penalties; Vieira's spot kick hit the post.
Disciplinary problems continued to beset Vieira in the 2000–01 season. He was sent off on the opening day against Sunderland and for the second time in 72 hours at home to Liverpool. Vieira scored two goals, the following match against Charlton Athletic, in what was his final appearance before a five-match suspension. It was feared that Vieira was prepared to turn his back on English football as he felt victimised – Wenger, several Arsenal players and fans supported him publicly, amid speculation that Italian club Juventus were prepared to offer Vieira an "escape route". Vieira himself, after the ban, expressed his desire to remain at Arsenal, but noted he could never alter his style of play: "...because, basically, I don't want to change. I really enjoy English football and the life in England. I am happy here."
After a group stage match against Lazio in October 2000, Vieira claimed he was the target of racial abuse from Siniša Mihajlović, to which UEFA subsequently launched an investigation into. Mihajlović later admitted he made reference to Vieira's colour, but added that he was provoked. The player was then handed a two-match ban for "unsporting actions". Given Arsenal finished behind Manchester United in the league for a third consecutive season, Vieira was reluctant to commit himself to the club and described the season, up until April 2001, as "average". Despite how mature his performances had become since Petit left, he criticised Arsenal's decision to sell him and Marc Overmars to Barcelona: "Of course it was good business but it was a big disappointment for me. If we still had the same team now and put Overmars and Petit in it, we would be even better and stronger. It's not that I miss Petit – the team needs him."
In May 2001, The Daily Telegraph reported that Manchester United was planning an "audacious" attempt to sign Vieira; manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a long-term admirer of the player, was given the green light by his board to make a bid. In the summer period, Vieira disparaged Arsenal's transfer activity and was adamant the club would not finish "in the top five in the league – and forget the Champions League," saying about his future: "As far as I'm concerned, the matter is resolved. I am leaving Arsenal and I have made that perfectly clear." The club refused to respond to his comments, but vice-chairman David Dein was privately irked at Vieira's agent, Marc Roger, for letting the situation become unsettling. Wenger attributed the saga at the hands of Manchester United: "[They] made an approach to Patrick without contacting us, and that does not really respect the rules." Vieira turned up for pre-season training in July 2001 as normal and was later named the club vice-captain, to ensure he would succeed Tony Adams as captain. Success finally came for Vieira in the 2001–02 season; Arsenal regained the league and beat Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup Final to complete a second double.
Adams' retirement in May 2002 meant Vieira became club captain. He described the feeling as "daunting", but it was something he looked forward to: "Taking the responsibility on my shoulders is something I relish. It will make me a better, more mature footballer and a more mature person as well." Against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in September 2002, Vieira was sent off for a late tackle on Gianfranco Zola; Arsenal's persistence nevertheless earnt them a point. In an interview with L'Équipe soon after, Vieira spoke of his desire to rest, as he felt "burned out": "I can hardly stand. My back aches, my legs hurt, it hurts all over. I'm going to see Arsène. He must give me time off to relax." He featured in 66 games the previous campaign for Arsenal, but Wenger rejected the player's need for special treatment: "I looked at the statistics for Tuesday's game and, physically, Patrick was outstanding. He pushed himself very hard and that explains why he was so tired."
Vieira's performance against Charlton on 14 September 2002 – incidentally his 200th league appearance for Arsenal – "justified Wenger's faith in his captain's fitness". Two months later, he was lauded by The Guardian correspondent David Lacey for his show against Newcastle United – "the Arsenal captain dominated the afternoon with a demonstration of tackling, control, awareness and movement that was exceptional even by his standards." Vieira sustained a groin injury against Valencia in December 2002, returning on Boxing Day to face West Bromwich Albion. In May 2003, Vieira was fined £2,300 by UEFA, having criticised the organisation for not doing enough on racism – the player was subject to racist abuse against Valencia. Vieira missed Arsenal's title run-in, which saw Manchester United overtake them in first place, due to sustaining a knee injury. Vieira was also ruled out of the 2003 FA Cup Final which Arsenal won, but jointly lifted the trophy with captain for the day, David Seaman.
In spite of growing interest to sign Vieira, not least from Manchester United, Real Madrid and Chelsea in the summer of 2003, the player agreed terms to stay at Arsenal and signed a deal which ran until 2007. The 2003–04 season was a successful one for Arsenal, as they reclaimed the league title and became the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire league season unbeaten. Vieira endured a troubling start to the campaign, as he was sent off against Manchester United in September 2003, banned for one match and later fined £20,000 "for improper conduct in failing to leave the field of play following his sending-off". He went off with a thigh strain during the match against Newcastle United, which commenced a period of being in and out of the side for two months. He scored his first goal of the season against Chelsea on 21 February 2004; Arsenal afterwards opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the league. Two months later, Vieira scored the opening goal away to Tottenham Hotspur, in what ended a 2–2 draw – enough for Arsenal to regain the title. Against Leicester City in the final league match of the campaign, with the score tied at 1–1, Dennis Bergkamp set up Vieira with a pass, to which he rounded the goalkeeper and scored. Arsenal ended the campaign as league champions without a single defeat – a record of 26 wins and 12 draws.
The re-election of Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez in July 2004 prompted him to declare the club's ambition to sign Vieira: "I must repeat that my policy is to try to sign the best player in the world in every position where we do not already have that. Patrick Vieira is, in my opinion, the best in the world in his position." Vieira's advisors met with officials from Real Madrid, before it was speculated a bid of £18 million had been put on the table. Following an ultimatum set by Wenger, who was "likely" to make an offer for West Ham midfielder Michael Carrick as his replacement, Vieira chose to stay at Arsenal. In a statement, he said: "I'm staying at the club. I'm proud to be captain of the club and I'm looking forward to achieving my ambitions."
Vieira scored his first goal of the 2004–05 season in a nine-goal North London derby, which Arsenal won 5-4 on 13 November 2004. His second goal came in a fortnight at Liverpool, "lift[ing] a lazy, delicate finish away from Chris Kirkland" after a one-touch move. Arsenal lost the match late on and Vieira, booked in the match, was suspended for the December clash against league leaders Chelsea; he scored the only goal for the team against Newcastle in the Christmas period. Vieira was involved in a tunnel bust up with Manchester United captain Roy Keane in February 2005 and was confronted about an incident involving Gary Neville. Arsenal fell to third as a result of losing 4–2 to United, but a 12 league matches unbeaten, culminating in a 7–0 home win against Everton, meant they ended the season in second place. In the 2005 FA Cup Final, he scored the winning penalty in a penalty shoot-out after a 0–0 draw with Manchester United, which proved to be his final kick of a ball for Arsenal. Vieira returned for the opening match of Emirates Stadium, in a testimonial for Bergkamp on 22 July 2006, as one of the Arsenal legends against Ajax.
In July 2005, representatives of Juventus met with Arsenal with a view to signing Vieira. The player, according to The Guardian, accepted that Arsenal were "ready to let him go" before agreeing in principle to join Juventus. On 15 August 2005, Vieira signed a five-year contract, in a deal worth £13.75 million. In a later interview with the Daily Mail, Wenger explained the departure of Vieira was to serve Cesc Fàbregas' career: "When Cesc Fàbregas was 18, 19, I would play him in a 4–4–2 with Patrick Vieira and I saw it did not work. Then I had the decision to make about letting Patrick go, because Gilberto Silva and Vieira worked, Fàbregas and Silva worked, but I could not play Fàbregas and Vieira. But Fàbregas was 19 and if he did not play I knew he would want to go, so we risked destroying everything, all the work we had put into this player."
Vieira was reunited with Fabio Capello, who had signed him at Milan, as a teenager. Capello described him as a "very important player", adding "…his presence is felt not only for his technical value but for his physical quality." Capello deployed Vieira in a midfield alongside Brazilian Emerson and Czech Pavel Nedvěd. Vieira made his debut for Juventus against Chievo on 28 August 2005, in a match where the team won by a goal to nil. On 14 September 2005, he was sent off against Club Brugge, in Juventus' first matchday of the Champions League. Vieira scored his first goal for the club – a 37th-minute winner against Udinese a week after, which contributed towards Juventus' impressive start to the league season. Having picked up a groin injury through international duty for France, Vieira missed Juventus' Champions League match away to Bayern Munich in October 2005. Despite his performances dipping as the result of a persistent groin injury and a reported training ground bust-up with teammate Zlatan Ibrahimović, Vieira helped Juventus retain the Scudetto, which was later stripped.
In a twist of fate, Vieira returned to Highbury on 28 March 2006 to play against Arsenal in the first leg of the quarter-finals of the Champions League. During that game, he was the subject of a strong tackle by former club and national teammate Robert Pirès. Vieira was left crestfallen as Pirès regained possession and Arsenal attacked, scoring the first goal of the tie through Cesc Fàbregas. Pirès humorously quipped that it was the first time in 13 years he had got the better of Vieira physically. Vieira also received a yellow card during that leg, which Arsenal won 2–0, and was suspended for the return leg on 5 April 2006 which ended 0–0 and eliminated Juventus. Arsenal ended up reaching the Champions League final.
Juventus were stripped of their 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 (FIGC) for their involvement, prompting many of the club's major stars to move elsewhere. After press speculation linking him to various clubs, including a move back to Arsenal, on 2 August 2006, Vieira officially signed a four-year deal for Internazionale in a deal to be worth €9.5 million, less than half of the €20 million fee Juventus had paid just 12 months prior. Vieira declared he wanted to continue to play at the highest level at the presentation conference, which is his reason to leave Juve.
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. But due to injury, he failed to become a regular starter. Olivier Dacourt, initially a backup player, became manager Roberto Mancini's first choice player in the 2006–07 season. And since the club signed Sulley Muntari and Thiago Motta, Vieira became of lesser and lesser importance in the team.
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. The move never happened, however, and Vieira remained at Inter. On 6 January 2010, Vieira unusually played as starter against Chievo, which was his eighth league start of the season. Before the match commenced, Inter had lost Esteban Cambiasso and Sulley Muntari due to injury, with Dejan Stanković and Thiago Motta suspended. José Mourinho stated that Vieira had played his last game at Inter after the match.
On 8 January 2010, it was confirmed that Vieira was having a medical at Manchester City and he would sign a six-month deal, where he would link up with former Arsenal colleagues Kolo Touré and Sylvinho and former Inter manager Roberto Mancini. The contract also included an option for a 12-month extension. Mancini described Vieira as an excellent midfielder with a winner's mentality and that he would fit into Manchester City's squad very well.
He made his debut for Manchester City in the 2–1 defeat to Hull City. Three days later, he made his first start for City against Bolton Wanderers, where he assisted Emmanuel Adebayor through a long ball in the 2–0 victory. He scored his first goal for the club against Burnley in their 6–1 win on 3 April 2010. On 9 June 2010, Vieira agreed to a one-year extension to his contract, which kept him at Eastlands until the summer of 2011. On 11 September 2010, he started his first game in his second season for the club and went on to score the equalizing goal against Blackburn Rovers before being substituted in the 65th minute. On 18 January 2011, he scored his second goal of the season in Manchester City's 4–2 third round replay against Leicester City. This was his 50th appearance in the competition. He continued his good run in the FA Cup by scoring the first two goals, during their 5–0 win in the Fourth round replay against Notts County and was awarded Man of the Match honours. He was praised for how well he linked up with Aleksandar Kolarov. Vieira also scored in the Premier League on 3 April 2011 against Sunderland, having come on as a substitute for Adam Johnson in the 66th minute. He scored no less than a minute later, having touched the ball into the goal. He made a late substitute appearance in May 2011, as Manchester City won the FA Cup with a 1–0 win over Stoke City at Wembley Stadium.
Vieira made 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 Arsenal teammate Emmanuel Petit for France's third goal in a 3–0 win. He, with the rest of the squad, was declared a Knight of the Légion d'honneur, France's highest decoration, in 1998.
He subsequently played as a first choice midfield player in France's successful campaign at UEFA 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, a header, in the final against Japan. He also played in all three games in the 2002 World Cup, in which France were eliminated in the group stage, failing to score a goal. He was injured and missed France's defeat to Greece, the eventual winners, at Euro 2004.
Vieira was appointed France's national team captain on Zinedine 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 World Cup. Vieira even handed back the captaincy of the team to Zidane.
On 23 June 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 beat Togo 2–0 in the group stages of the 2006 World Cup; Vieira assisted 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 16, 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 performances. Vieira started the final, 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.
On 5 August 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. His last cap with the national team was on 2 June 2009 in a friendly match against Nigeria. He was not included by coach Raymond Domenech in France's squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and after France's failed campaign, he announced his international retirement by declaring that he would not make himself available to play under former teammate and new French manager Laurent Blanc.
On 7 July 2010, Vieira confirmed again that he was no longer interested in playing for France and would devote his time to Manchester City. Altogether, Vieira won 107 caps for France, scoring six goals.
On 14 July 2011, Vieira announced his retirement from playing and accepted a training and youth development role at Manchester City with the title of Football Development Executive (F.D.E). In this role, he forged a strong, close working relationship with City Football Group's Brian Marwood.
In May 2013, Vieira was appointed as the club's new reserve team and Elite Development squad manager.
On 9 November 2015, Vieira was announced as the new head coach of New York City from 1 January 2016, replacing inaugural head coach Jason Kreis. He was selected for the role by Director of Soccer Claudio Reyna due to his familiarity with the structure of operations within the group, as well as his tactical knowledge, which was previously utilised by Jason Kreis on his scholar period in Manchester.
Vieira's first signing at the club was Stoke-on-Trent native Jack Harrison, whom the club had been attempting to claim as a home grown player, though was ruled ineligible by league officials as the academy he was trained in had not been affiliated to the club for the required minimum three-year period. He was consequently selected by Chicago Fire as number one pick in the 2016 Super Draft, upon when Vieira agreed a trade with Chicago in exchange for the number four pick and allocation funds.
Vieira's subsequent signings in his debut season in the boroughs included winger Rónald Matarrita from Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, full back Diego Martínez from River Plate, defender Frédéric Brillant from KV Oostende, and defensive midfielder Federico Bravo, who arrived on a season long loan from Boca Juniors.
Vieira was given a mandate by the club to reduce the average age of the squad. He made his managerial debut with the club in a 1–0 pre-season friendly win versus OKC Energy. His team won five out of six games in preseason, turning over opponents FGCE, OKC Energy, Montreal Impact, HB Køge and Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavíkur, only coming unstuck versus FC Cincinnati.
Vieira took charge of his first Major League Soccer game on the road versus Chicago Fire on March 6, 2016, in which his squad claimed a 4-3 victory. On March 13, 2016, He made his first appearance at Yankee Stadium coaching NYCFC against Toronto FC, as the 2016 home opener for NYCFC in the 2016 MLS season. Vieira led NYCFC to their first ever playoff appearance after finishing second in the Eastern Conference. Despite losing in the conference semi-finals to Toronto FC, 2016 was considered a successful first season for Vieira by nearly all pundits.
NYCFC improved its position in the combined MLS standings in each of his years with the club, improving from 17th in 2015 to 4th in Vieira's first season in 2016 and then to 2nd in 2017. Through its first 7 games in 2018, NYCFC is undefeated and atop the MLS table with 17 points.
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, who was known for his ability to anticipate his opponents, and was 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. In addition to his abilities as a footballer, he also stood out for his leadership throughout his career.
Vieira was sponsored by sportswear company Nike and appeared in Nike commercials. In a global Nike advertising campaign in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, he starred in a "Secret Tournament" commercial (branded "Scorpion KO") directed by Terry Gilliam, appearing alongside football players such as Thierry Henry, Ronaldo, Edgar Davids, Fabio Cannavaro, Francesco Totti, Ronaldinho, Luís Figo and Hidetoshi Nakata, with former player Eric Cantona the tournament "referee".
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|France||League||Coupe de France||Coupe de la Ligue||Europe||Total|
|Italy||League||Coppa Italia||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Italy||League||Coppa Italia||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|2009–10||Manchester City||Premier League||13||1||1||0||0||0||-||14||1|
|New York City||1 January 2016||11 June 2018||91||40||23||28||121||113||+8||43.96|||
|Nice||11 June 2018||present||0||0||0||0||0||0||+0||—|||
|France national team|
Manchester City EDS