Following news of the Premier League launching a Hall of Fame, we give you the top 10 candidates who should be among the first inductees.
The Premier League will officially launch the long-awaited Hall of Fame on Monday, April 19, after postponing it in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two former players will be inducted on Monday evening. Fans will then have the chance to vote for six more players to join the Hall of Fame from a shortlist of nominees, which will be announced on the very same day.
Only retired players, who played in the Premier League since its inception in 1992, can compete for the honor. Each inductee will also get a personalized medallion, with the year of their induction engraved on it.
So here Ace Football has listed the Top 10 candidates that should enter the Hall of Fame first.
10. Eric Cantona
We begin with one of the most important Manchester United players in Premier League history, Eric Cantona.
While the French forward wasn’t the club’s greatest player, his arrival in 1992 signalled the dawn of a new era. Some claim Cantona was the catalyst that ended United’s 26-year wait for a league title in 1992. What followed was even more impressive.
The ex-Leeds man won the Premier League title in all but one of his four and a half seasons at Old Trafford. His stylish play always caught the eye, even on a muddy pitch. What stood out most, though, was Eric’s charisma and imagination.
Cantona managed 70 goals and 50 assists in 156 Premier League games.
9. Steven Gerrard
Surely the unluckiest player to never win the Premier League in his career is Liverpool legend Gerrard.
The now-Rangers coach spent 17 years starring in the Reds midfield and won countless plaudits. There hasn’t been another midfielder like him. Not even his successor, Jordan Henderson, is in the same bracket.
The Englishman was a brilliant all-round player, with great leadership skills and a set-piece ability on par with the best. Zinedine Zidane and Pele once labelled him the world’s best player.
But as brilliant as Gerrard was back in the day, that dream league crown with Liverpool always eluded him. He had two near-misses in 2009 and 2014 before spending a brief stint at LA Galaxy.
Gerrard managed 121 goals and 70 assists in 504 Premier League appearances.
8. Rio Ferdinand
Perhaps the most proficient defender of his generation, Ferdinand was consistently brilliant throughout his career.
The Englishman never failed to impress whether that was at West Ham, Leeds United, Manchester United or even QPR. He was just that good.
Ferdinand’s career, though, will always be tied to Old Trafford following an incredible 12-year stint. His performances in the United defence played a key part behind them winning six Premier League titles. Even now, they still haven’t found a worthy successor for him.
Ferdinand managed 11 goals and seven assists in 503 Premier League games.
7. Patrick Vieira
Hailed as Arsene Wenger’s greatest signing for Arsenal, Vieira went from a nobody into one of the world’s greatest players.
At 20, Patrick arrived in London in 1996 as Wenger’s first recruit following a brief stint playing for AC Milan. What happened afterwards is still remembered to this day by everyone.
The Frenchman became a leader with his gritty, aggressive, and resilient style of play, making him one of the Premier League’s most feared players. Only Roy Keane could match him in this respect.
Vieira left Arsenal in 2005 as a three-time Premier League winner for Juventus. He returned to England four years later to join Manchester City before retiring in 2011.
The World Cup winner managed 32 goals and 26 assists in 307 Premier League games.
6. Roy Keane
After Sir Alex Ferguson, the second most important person to establish Manchester United’s Premier League dominance was Roy Keane. May be hard to imagine, but his impact was vital at Old Trafford.
The Irishman joined United in 1993 for a British transfer record of €8.50m from Nottingham Forest. He quickly found his feet and inspired the club to countless major honors. Among them were seven Premier League titles.
While the hot-headed player always played with an aggressive and competitive attitude, he was effective. It enabled him to become a great captain and constantly boss the Red Devils midfield around. Nobody has come close to replacing him ever since.
Keane managed 39 goals and 21 assists in 366 Premier League games.
5. Frank Lampard
The Chelsea legend had no equal as a goal-scoring midfielder.
For 13 wonderful years, Lampard regularly scored some screamers from the Chelsea midfield. He had everything from intelligence to creativity, which helped the club win three Premier League titles.
Frank left Stamford Bridge in 2014 as the Blues’ all-time record scorer, and four-highest in Premier League history. He managed a whopping 177 goals and 118 assists in 611 English top-flight games.
Lampard later coached Chelsea from July 2019 until January this year.
4. Paul Scholes
Perhaps one of the most underrated players in football history, Scholes was incredible at the peak of his abilities. He was a specialist in Manchester United’s star-studded midfield. Even Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez respected his talents.
While Thierry Henry once labelled Scholes the greatest player throughout the Premier League’s entire history.
The Englishman was a renowned passer, capable of moving swiftly in the United midfield and scoring from long-range. All these attributes made him the full package and won him 11 Premier League titles.
Perhaps the finest achievement of Paul’s career, though, was the way he continued to impress during the latter stages of his career.
Scholes managed 107 goals and 54 assists in 499 Premier League games.
3. Alan Shearer
Starting off the Top 3 is the Premier League’s record scorer Shearer, who bagged 260 goals and 12 assists in 441 games. His nearest scoring rival is Wayne Rooney on 208 goals.
From the Premier League’s inception in 1992 to his retirement in 2006, Shearer always tormented defenses. It was second nature to him, much to the anguish of every single defender.
The Newcastle United legend was a classic English attacker through his physical traits and powerful shooting ability. There haven’t been many like him, especially in recent times.
The only blip in an otherwise magnificent career was that Shearer only won the Premier League once in 1996 with Blackburn.
2. Thierry Henry
The Frenchman transformed into one of the world’s greatest players upon joining Arsenal in 1999. Nobody could have foreseen what was around the corner when Henry linked up with Arsene Wenger in Highbury. It was breathtaking to watch.
His pace, style, ingenuity, resourcefulness and class made him one of the Premier League’s greatest, if not the best.
Henry’s incredible performances inspired Arsenal to two league titles, while he also collected four Golden Boot awards. He was the cutting edge in the Gunners’ attack and embraced all their best qualities.
In just seven seasons, Henry is the Premier League’s sixth-highest scorer on 177 goals in 258 games. He also made 77 assists in England.
1. Ryan Giggs
What made Giggs truly special was his longevity in football, having starred down the Manchester United flanks for 24 years. The way he changed his game while his body aged inspired many footballers.
The Welshman was initially an explosive winger who formed a big part of United’s legendary treble-winning team in 1999. He soon evolved into a more all-round midfielder as the years went by. It enabled him to remain competitive until his last kick of a ball in 2014.
Giggs is second in the charts for the most Premier League appearances at 632. He delivered 109 goals on route to a record 13 league titles and 158 assists. Therefore, it only seems right he enters the Hall of Fame first.