Former Arsenal midfielder and Invincibles captain Patrick Vieira has retired from playing football, according to the Arsenal official website. He has accepted a position as Football Development Executive at Manchester City, the club for whom he played last season.
Vieira won seven trophies and made 406 appearances in his time at Arsenal, and probably is among the club's five most important players in history. As a midfielder, few had the physical presence combined with technical skill that Vieira offered, and most Saturdays he could be seen taking the ball away from his opponent and somehow immediately starting a counterattack down the flanks to Robert Pires, Freddie Ljungberg, or Marc Overmars without breaking stride. His departure for Juventus in 2005 initiated the strategic and tactical shift to where we find Arsenal today; the narrowish 4-4-2 last employed effectively by the Invinicibles has slowly morphed into the 4-2-3-1 used now, as Cesc Fabregas first played alongside Gilberto Silva, then Mathieu Flamini, and then Alex Song and Denilson and Jack Wilshere as partners.
Fond remembrance means that supporters will often point out that Vieira did the work of a double pivot on his own, and while that may or may not actually be true, there's no disputing his place in Arsenal's heart and history at this point. While I may be slightly bummed that he's taken a position at City rather than coming back to Arsenal, I will choose instead to remember his unleashing midfield destruction time and time again as teams broke against the Arsenal back five like waves against granite.
What are your favorite memories of Vieira?