Dejan Stankovic has compared Inter's Nemanja Vidic to Braveheart, and explained his decision to move into coaching at Udinese.
Just as the retired midfielder begins a new chapter with the Zebrette this summer, compatriot Vidic begins work with the Nerazzurri this preseason.
For the former Manchester United captain, his former international teammate’s decade at San Siro made him the go-to guy for information.
“He asked me a thousand things - about Italy, Italian football, Inter, Pinetina, his teammates. He wanted to know everything,” Stankovic has reflected to the Gazzetta dello Sport on Vidic.
“For two years he was the best defender in the world, and he is still among the best - there’s not much to add.
“What you will discover is the man I knew for 10 years together in the national team - a serious person, a great professional, a leader.
“What did I tell him? Nema, in Italy there is great attention to the organisation, tactics. For years you have faced great strikers one-on-one, with highways behind you. Here, you’ll be playing with a cigarette in your mouth.
“His inexperience in a back-three? He will learn quickly because he is smart and experienced, he can read the game in advance and take a position before the forward.”
Stankovic was asked what he saw he has in common with Vidic.
“He is much cooler than me, but I would say courage. Have you seen Braveheart? I do not know how many times I said: ‘Nema, think about your health’, and how many times he split open his forehead or nose because he always throws it in, without thinking about it.
“Can he be captain? The captain will be Johnny [Stankovic calls Andrea Ranocchia this, as he is as thin as Johnny Stecchino, a character from an Italian comedy film].
“And rightly so - the other day I spoke to him. Vidic will give him a nice hand, whilst he will also wear the armband well.”
The 35-year-old is preparing for the new season with Udinese, working as Andrea Stramaccioni’s assistant.
“I want to say thanks to Inter and when the fixture list is announced the first date I will look for will be Inter-Udinese - it is always nice to come home and San Siro has been my home.
“Thank you to the fans, former teammates, the President, who for me is Moratti because I have not had another - thank you for my being able to wear the shirt and be a part of the club’s history.
“The move to Udinese? I could not bear to sit still - I had already been out enough when I was still a player, unfortunately.
“And it is why I felt the need to give to someone, once out of a football field, something from my 20 years of playing football.”
Before accepting the position in Udine, Stankovic was linked with a number of other roles, including one within the Serbian Football Federation.
“With the Federation I could have come in as Mihajlovic’s assistant, if Sinisa had remained as the Coach of the national team.
“As a director, no - if today the name ‘Dejan Stankovic’ means something then it is because I have earned that on the field and I would not have wanted a role just because of that name.
“I wanted to use that name with the same humility that I first put in. I wanted an experience, to start over. Indeed, today Deki is back at zero, and I need time - to study, to work, to live football 100 per cent.
“It is at the cost of tearing myself away for the first time in my life from my wife and my children, who are currently in Milan.”