During his playing career he was nicknamed lo Zar (the Tsar) because of his descent, since he was the son of a Ukrainian Red Army soldier. A tenacious and physical player, Vierchowod was regarded as one of the greatest and toughest Italian defenders of the 80s and the 90s, due to his speed, immense strength, aggression, tight marking, hard tackling, and anticipation.
Talking to Argentine magazine El Gráfico, Argentine footballer Diego Maradona 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".
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."
Verchowod was capped 45 times with the Italy national team, scoring two goals. He was one of the players in the Italian squad, although he did not play, that won the 1982 FIFA World Cup. Verchowod also made three appearances at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, as Italy finished in third place. He is also the oldest goalscorer in the history of the Italy national team: he scored in a qualification match against Malta on 24 March 1993, which ended in a 6–1 win for the Azzurri. Vierchowod also competed for Italy at the 1984 Summer Olympics.