Nickname: "Lo Zar"
Club: UC Sampdoria
Growth Type: Standard/Lasting
An old-style defender, Vierchowod was nicknamed the zar because he was the son of a Ukrainian Red Army soldier. Vierchowod was a world-class man-marker, and a great tactical reader of the game. He also possessed lightning pace and acceleration, even in the last year of his career at the age of 41. It is often said that Vierchowod was never outsprinted on the football pitch during his long and distinguished career.
Vierchowod started his professional football career for Como, before moving to Fiorentina. However, his first successes came when he moved to AS Roma, winning a Serie A scudetto in 1983. Then he moved to Sampdoria, with whom he won four Italian Cups, one Cup Winners' Cup and another scudetto, in 1991.
In 1995 he signed for Juventus, where he acted as an experienced defender and won his only UEFA Champions League in 1996 at the age of 37. However even at this late stage of his career Vierchowod was still very much a world-class player. He is particularly remembered for his superb performance in the final in Rome against Ajax Amsterdam which Juve won on penalties. He then moved on to AC Milan and Piacenza Calcio, for whom he continued to play regularly despite being 41 years of age. He eventually retired in 2000.
Vierchowod played 562 Serie A matches, being fourth only to Paolo Maldini, Gianluca Pagliuca and Dino Zoff. He was also capped 45 times with the Italian national football team, and scored 2 goals. He was one of the players in the Italian squad, although he didn't play, that won the 1982 FIFA World Cup. He is also the oldest goalscorer in the history of the Italian national team: he scored in a qualification match against Malta on March 24, 1993 which ended in a 6-1 win for the Azzurri. As with many Italian defenders of his era, Vierchowod would have gained many more caps had it not been for the abundance of world-class defenders Italy boasted during this period. Nevertheless there is no doubt that Vierchowod was one in a long line of world-class Italian defenders.
After his playing career, Vierchowod coached Catania of Serie C1, Florentia Viola (now Fiorentina) of Serie C2 and Triestina of Serie B. In all these cases, he was fired before the end of the season.