Former Serbia boss blasts Vidic for quitting

Nemanja Vidic has let himself and Serbia down by quitting international football at the peak of his powers, former national team coach Ilija Petkovic told Belgrade media on Tuesday.

Petkovic, who led Serbia and Montenegro to the 2006 World Cup when they played as a single nation, was quoted as saying that Vidic "has made a morally wrong decision."

"Honestly, I am stunned with Vidic's decision because he could have played on for Serbia for a long time and this is a poor gesture for a player of his stature," he said.

"There are things of which I don't want to remind Vidic, he should have taken a good look at himself in the mirror before he decided to walk away.

"That is a big decision for such a young man and he will have to look the people in their eyes when he returns to Serbia one day.

"When the going gets tough the tough get going and Vidic stepped aside after the national team was rattled [by failing to qualify for the Euro 2012 finals]," said Petkovic.

Having scored two goals in 56 appearances for his country, Vidic ended his international career on a sour note when he missed a penalty in Serbia's crunch 1-0 defeat by Slovenia in their final Euro 2012 qualifier on October 11.

He announced his decision on Monday in an open letter to the Serbian Football Association (FSS) saying he was quitting because of persistent fan and media criticism over his commitment to the national team.


FSS chief Tomislav Karadzic said he was not surprised by Vidic's decision and revealed the Manchester United defender had told him after Serbia's early exit in the 2010 World Cup he would hang up his international boots after Euro 2012.

"We are all saddened by this decision but Nemanja told us, the FSS leadership and then coach [Radomir Antic] after the World Cup in South Africa, that he would step aside after the Euro 2012 campaign," Karadzic told Belgrade media.

"He said we had two years to groom his successor but given that we failed to qualify for the Euro 2012 finals, he decided to end his national team career now.

"Vidic is a man of strong principles but we hope he will have a change of heart in the upcoming period.

"If he doesn't we will certainly organise a farewell match for him because that's the least he deserves," said Karadzic.

Vidic's international retirement came only two weeks after Serbia captain Dejan Stankovic also quit following the defeat in Slovenia, when the Serbs needed a win to clinch a Euro 2012 play-off berth.