Patrick Vieira was born in Dakar, Senegal on June 23, 1976, but moved to France with his family as a child. His professional football career began in 1993 at French club Cannes, where he played for three years. In 1996 he joined Italian team AC Milan, but only played two games there before joining Arsenal for £4 million. He was the first player Arsène Wenger signed after becoming Arsenal's manager. Since then he has proved himself to be one of the best midfielders in the world. He has played 274 games for Arsenal, scoring 19 goals and helping the team win two doubles (1997-98 and 2001-02). He has 56 international caps for France under his belt, in which he has scored 3 goals. He won the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 European Championship with France.
During his early years at Arsenal Vieira formed an excellent midfield duo with countryman Emmanuel Petit, but his performances on the pitch were often overshadowed by disciplinary problems, as he tended to collect a few red cards too many. After the atrocious start of the 2000-2001 season, where he was sent off in each of the first two games he played, he finally got his act together and since then his behavior has been quite good.
Vieira is easily one of Arsenal's most important players. He has a very strong presence in the midfield and his hard tackles stop more attacks than most teams' entire defensive lines do. If he stays with the club long enough (which I sincerely hope he does) he is likely to succeed Tony Adams as captain.
Sources: www.arsenal.com, fifaworldcup.yahoo.com