HARRISON, N.J. — Just one look at Sacir Hot’s face and his elation was plain to see. The young Red Bulls defender was clearly savoring the moment.
After last week's All-Star Game, a 4-0 triumph to visiting Manchester United, the former Boston College defender and Red Bull Academy product was standing outside the United locker room, hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts, swaying back and forth.
He looked a little nervous.
“I’m just waiting to see Vidic,” Hot told MLSsoccer.com. “I have to see him again.”
“Vidic,” of course is Nemanja Vidic, the captain of Manchester United and the star center back of the Serbian national team. Earlier last week during Manchester United’s training session at Red Bull Arena, Vidic and Hot had met and struck up a conversation. Hot, who just turned 21 years old, has Montenegrin roots and is a defender much like Vidic.
Vidic came to prominence playing for Red Star Belgrade, and though Hot is a fervent supporter of rival club Partizan, he still admires and respects the veteran’s skill.
“He’s a great player, one of my favorites and a real hero of mine," Hot said. Meeting him was an honor. We just got to talk for a few minutes, strike up a conversation and just talk about the game. He asked me questions about playing here, about me and what I’m doing.”
Hot was smiling ear to ear just recounting the conversation. The U-20 United States international signed with MLS after several encouraging trials with Bundesliga sides this past January, and the defender has slowly begun to integrate himself into the Red Bulls first team. After his meeting with Vidic on Tuesday, Hot was a bit more aggressive in his play at Red Bulls practice the next morning, perhaps the result of his encounter with the legendary defender.
“It was an honor to meet him and then to watch him tonight against the All-Stars and how he plays, to see it up close was great,” Hot said. “His positioning always seems to be right and how he reads things. There is a lot for me to learn from him. It was really inspiring for me as I watched him play tonight.”
Moments later Vidic walked by with the trophy from the game. Hot’s head swiveled from another conversation as he called out his hero’s name. Vidic stopped and looked and a smile broke across his face as the veteran center back and the rising young defender shared a couple more moments.
Maybe someday, Vidic and Hot will play center back together for the Red Bulls.
“Oh man, that would be awesome,” Hot said. “That would be a dream come true.”
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer