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Celebrating greatness

Danial Norjidi

The 2022 inductees of the English Premier League Hall of Fame were announced recently, with eight legendary former players being added this year.

The Premier League Hall of Fame is described as the league’s “highest individual honour” to players, and recognises and celebrates the exceptional skill and talent of individuals who have played in the league since its inception in 1992.

The Hall of Fame exists online, with content dedicated to celebrating the careers of its inductees. Only players who are retired are eligible. To be eligible for induction in 2022, players must have been retired by January 1 this year.

This year, the first two inductees were announced by the league on March 23, while an additional six former players from a 25-man shortlist were inducted into the Hall of Fame via public and panel vote, with an announcement made on April 21.

All inducted players receive a medallion engraved with their name and the year of their induction, with a GBP10,000 donation made by the Premier League to a charity of
their choice.

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Arsenal’s Patrick Viera
Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero
ABOVE & BELOW: Chelsea’s Didier Drogba, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, Manchester United’s Peter Schmeichel, Manchester United’s Paul Scholes and Arsenal’s Ian Wright

WAYNE ROONEY

One of the first inductees of 2022 was former Everton and Manchester United player Wayne Rooney.

In a statement, the Premier League said that Rooney joins the select group as the second-highest scorer in Premier League history, after inaugural inductee Alan Shearer, having struck 208 goals in 491 appearances. Rooney also provided 103 assists, a tally only beaten by two players.

“After bursting on to the scene with a sensational first Premier League goal as a 16-year-old Everton striker against Arsenal, Rooney became a mainstay of the England team before joining Manchester United at the age of 18.

“During 13 seasons at Old Trafford, Rooney scored 183 Premier League goals to become the club’s record scorer in the competition. He won the league five times, including three in a row between 2006/07 and 2008/09.”

Rooney was named Player of the Month five times and won the league’s Player of the Season award in 2009/10. “He then had a fairytale return to Everton, scoring 10 goals including the November 2017 Goal of the Month, before calling time on his Premier League career with a move to DC United in MLS (Major League Soccer). He returned to English football at Derby County, where he is now the manager.”

PATRICK VIERA

Also announced as one of the first inductees of 2022 was Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ captain Patrick Viera.

In a statement, Vieira is described as having been a colossal presence in Arsenal’s midfield from 1996 to 2005, dominating matches while scoring 31 goals and providing 34 assists in 307 Premier League appearances as he won the title three times.

“Combining power, athleticism and tough tackling with pinpoint passing and ruthless finishing, Vieira won the 2000/01 Player of the Season award and established himself as one of the greatest central midfielders of his generation.

“He etched his name into the history books in the third of his Premier League Trophy wins, captaining ‘The Invincibles’ as Arsene Wenger’s team won the 2003/04 title without losing a single match.

“Vieira finished his Premier League playing career at Manchester City before turning to life off the field. After coaching in the US and France, he was named manager of Crystal Palace last summer.”

SERGIO AGUERO

One of the inductees voted into the Hall of Fame this year is ex-Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero.

A Premier League statement noted that Aguero became the highest-scoring overseas player in Premier League history, notching 184 goals in 275 appearances for the Citizens.

“The Argentinian joined City before the 2011/12 season and finished that campaign by scoring one of the most iconic Premier League goals of all time.

“His dramatic late winner on the final day against Queens Park Rangers sealed Manchester City’s first Premier League trophy. Aguero won four more titles before leaving the club at the end of last season.”

DIDIER DROGBA

Another 2022 inductee is Didier Drogba, a four-time Premier League champion with Chelsea.

As the Hall of Fame describes, “Blessed with pace, power and skill, Didier Drogba was instrumental in helping Chelsea to two successive Premier League titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06. As well as winning the Premier League trophy four times in two spells with Chelsea, Drogba claimed two Golden Boots.”

A statement highlights that the Ivorian is earned a reputation as “the archetypal big-game player”.

“The centre-forward was capable of scoring every type of goal” and amassed 104 goals in 254 appearances during two spells with the Blues.

VINCENT KOMPANY

Former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany is also among this year’s Hall of Fame inductees.

The Belgian joined the Citizens in 2008 and is described as having played a key role in the transformation at the club over the coming years. He won the Premier League Player of the Season award in 2011/12 as he captained the Citizens to their first Premier League title.

“A highly accomplished centre-back with four Premier League winner’s medals to his name, one of his defining moments came when he scored a stunning 30-yard strike in the penultimate match of 2018/19 – his last goal for the club – to swing the title race in their favour.”

Kompany amassed 265 apperances for Manchester City, scoring 18 goals and contributing to the keeping of 94 clean sheets.

PETER SCHMEICHEL

This year sees Peter Schmeichel become the first goalkeeper to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, having won five Premier League titles during his seven seasons with Manchester United.

“The Dane was an imposing figure between the posts as United dominated English football in the 90s, keeping 128 clean sheets in 310 Premier League appearances.”

Schmeichel remains the only goalkeeper to have won the Premier League Player of the Season award, having done so in 1995/96.

PAUL SCHOLES

Former Manchester United midfielder has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame this year.

A statement notes that, after progressing into the Manchester United first team as part of the club’s famed ‘Class of ‘92’, Scholes became an 11-time Premier League champion under Sir Alex Ferguson, and is “widely regarded as one of the most technically adept creative midfielders of his generation.

“His vision and range of passing helped to provide 55 assists for his teammates, while his fearsome shooting ability produced some memorable strikes among the 107 goals he scored from 499 league appearances”.

IAN WRIGHT

The final Hall of Fame inductee of 2022 is former striker Ian Wright, who netted a total of 113 Premier League goals in 213 appearances.

Wright is described in a statement as having “instantly became a fans’ favourite after signing for Arsenal from Crystal Palace in 1991, thanks to his unerring eye for goal and heart-on-his-sleeve attitude.

“He was Arsenal’s top scorer six seasons in a row and, in 1997/98, broke Cliff Bastin’s record to become their leading scorer of all time, a feat only bettered by Thierry Henry. Wright ended that season by winning the Premier League before joining West Ham United”.

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