Widely regarded as one of the greatest Italian centre-backs of all-time, and one of the best of his generation, during his playing career he was nicknamed lo Zar ("the Tsar") because of his pace, defensive ability, physicality, tenacious playing style, and Ukrainian descent; he was the son of a Ukrainian Red Army soldier from Starobilsk.
Vierchowod was initially a man-marking centre-back, who also later excelled in a zonal-marking system. He started his professional football career for Como, before moving to Fiorentina. However, his first successes came when he moved to Roma, winning a Serie A scudetto in 1983. Then he moved to Sampdoria, with whom he won four Italian Cups, one European 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. He played the final in Rome against Ajax which Juve won on penalties. He then moved on to Milan and Piacenza, for whom he continued to play regularly despite being 41 years of age. He eventually retired in 2000. Vierchowod played 562 Serie A matches, and is the seventh-highest appearance holder of all time in Serie A, behind only to Paolo Maldini, Gianluigi Buffon, Francesco Totti, Javier Zanetti, Gianluca Pagliuca, and Dino Zoff.
Vierchowod was capped 45 times with the Italy national team between 1981 and 1993, scoring two goals. He made his international debut on 6 January 1981, at the age of 21, during a 1–1 friendly draw against the Netherlands in Montevideo, in the 1981 "Mundialito" tournament. He was one of the players in the Italian squad, although he did not play, that won the 1982 FIFA World Cup, under manager Enzo Bearzot. Verchowod was a member of the Italian squad that took part at the 1986 FIFA World Cup, and he also made three appearances at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, as Italy finished in third place on home soil, under manager Azeglio Vicini, after reaching the semi-finals. He is also the oldest goalscorer in the history of the Italy national team: he scored in a 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Malta on 24 March 1993, which ended in a 6–1 win for the Azzurri, under manager Arrigo Sacchi. Vierchowod also competed for Italy at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, where Italy managed a fourth-place finish, after reaching the semi-finals of the tournament, although he has never played for Italy in an UEFA European Championship.
Nicknamed lo Zar, Vierchowod was a tenacious and physical centre-back, who possessed great pace; he was considered one of the toughest Serie A defenders of the 1980s and the 1990s, due to his immense strength, tight marking of opponents, and hard tackling style of play. His speed, anticipation, and ability to read the game enabled him to break down opposing plays, win back possession, and intercept loose balls; these attributes also allowed him to excel in the zonal marking defensive system during his later career. Despite his aggressive playing style, he was also regarded as a fair player both on and off the pitch.
In an interview with Argentine magazine El Gráfico, Argentine footballer Diego Maradona, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, dubbed Vierchowod his toughest opponent, stating that "[Vierchowod] was an animal, he had muscles to the eyelashes. It was easy to pass by him, but then when I raised my head, he was in front of me again. I would have to pass him two or three more times and then I would pass the ball because I couldn't stand him anymore". Throughout his career, Maradona gave Vierchowod the nickname Hulk.
Gary Lineker also revealed in an interview with FourFourTwo that Vierchowod was "the hardest defender he ever faced" adding "he was absolutely brutal and lightning quick. He gave me one or two digs."
After his playing career, Vierchowod coached Catania of Serie C1, Florentia Viola (now Fiorentina) of Serie C2 and Triestina of Serie B. In all of the circumstances, he was fired before the end of the season.
On 13 June 2014, Vierchowod was announced as the new coach of the Hungarian club, Budapest Honvéd, but after the team's poor performance on 6 October he was fired.Roma
Serie A: 1982–83
Serie A: 1990–91
Coppa Italia: 1984–85, 1987–88, 1988–89, 1990–91, 1993–94
Supercoppa Italiana: 1988, 1989, 1994
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1989–90
Supercoppa Italiana: 1995
UEFA Champions League: 1995–96
FIFA World Cup: 1982
Premio Nazionale Carriera Esemplare "Gaetano Scirea": 1995
5th Class/Knight: Cavaliere Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana