The Premier League has decided to introduce a Hall of Fame in celebration of the world-class players that have brought the league so much since 1992.
It has now been announced that the first two players will be enrolled on Thursday 19th March, alongside a shortlist of potential future inductees. As choosing a list of all-time greats is an incredibly subjective topic of discussion, the league is turning to fan votes in order to reach their decision.
A footballer's admission into the Hall of Fame is based on two criteria. Firstly, only players retired from domestic football are eligible and fans are urged only to consider their Premier League career when voting.
Below I have named the first two players I believe should be inducted on 19th March and listed their understudies.
Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
With a record 13 Premier League trophies and as the only footballer to appear in 22 successive Premier League seasons, Ryan Giggs has to be the first name on the ballot.
The Welshman totted up 652 Premier League appearances, a feat only to be surpassed by Gareth Barry in 2018. His adaptability to evolve and grow into several midfield positions helped him remain an integral part of Sir Alex Ferguson's domestic empire, starting out his career as a dynamic winger and concluding as a deep-lying and methodical playmaker.
Ryan Giggs was a phenomenal footballer. However, one could argue that, in terms of raw talent and skill, there is a star-studded list of former players more deserving of a place. Yet in a debate dominated by subjective opinions, it is important to remember the objective facts; no player has won more games than Ryan Giggs since the start of the Premier League (407) nor won more Premier League titles. Case closed.
Alan Shearer (Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United)
The second inductee into the Hall of Fame should be Alan Shearer, in my opinion.
He scored a total of 260 goals in the division; a record statistic that, at this stage, is a long way from being overtaken. For Shearer to achieve this incredible feat, the talisman had to average over a goal every other game for the duration of his long career.
Although Shearer was excellent for Southampton in his early years, his Premier League career began with Blackburn Rovers following a £3.6 million signing away from the south coast. His goal-scoring prowess helped him obtain 3 successive golden boots, one Premier League title and one PFA Player of the Year during his time with Blackburn Rovers. Although a capable outfit, Blackburn were certainly underdogs in their title winning campaign and would have struggled to achieve what they did without their target man.
His time at Newcastle United also brought a wealth of success if not for Premier League silverware. Shearer was named top scorer for Newcastle in 10 consecutive seasons and his goals helped Newcastle achieve some impressive finishes in the league during this time, consolidating the club's status in Europe.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, it is refreshing to remember the passion with which Alan Shearer played the game. Much like Steven Gerrard and Francesco Totti, who became loyal heroes for Liverpool and Roma respectively, Shearer revered in every opportunity to represent his boyhood club; in fact, he was known to rebuff potential transfers away from St James' Park with the press in order to remain in black and white. In a footballing world driven by money and success-focused players, loyalty is a rarity in the Premier League nowadays. Memories of Shearer's passion and heart helps us to wipe away the cobwebs of financial fair play and VAR controversy and get back to what really matters: playing for and supporting the clubs we've loved since birth.
Therefore, because of the incredible records and poetic passion he brought to the Premier League, I would be very happy to see Alan Shearer partner Ryan Giggs and enter the Hall of Fame in the first round.
Next in - Thierry Henry (Arsenal) and Frank Lampard (West Ham United, Chelsea, Manchester City)
To preface this shortlist, I am aware that some readers may be disappointed that no defensive players have made the cut; although they were invaluable to their teams' successes, I am far more excited at the prospect of choosing attacking midfielders and strikers this time around. Therefore, I could not quite find room to include the centre-halves, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, or the defensive midfield duo, Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira, in the first round, despite their undeniable success.
During the years in which he played, Henry was the most talented player in the league. The Frenchman won 2 Premier League titles, 4 successive golden boots and 2 Player of the Season awards during his time in London.
As one of my all-time favourite players, my heart wanted to include the former Gunner as one of my first two picks. Sadly, my head felt forced to leave him out. As Henry left to join Barcelona in 2007, the striker lacks the longevity of success that I associate with both Giggs and Shearer. Had he remained in the league a little longer, I'm sure Thierry would have been inducted into my Hall of Fame sooner.
Finally, I am sure a platoon of angry Liverpool supporters are sharpening their pitchforks at my exclusion of Steven Gerrard from the shortlist.
The Hall of Fame will undoubtedly unearth the heated Gerrard vs. Lampard debate once again. Although separating the pair in terms of talent is a tough task, it was ultimately a simple decision: leave out the player that never collected a Premier League winners medal.
Lampard, however, is richly decorated with Premier League accolades. The midfielder has won 3 Premier League titles, scored 177 goals (more than any midfielder) and is one of only 4 players in history to total over 100 assists in the league. Based on these records and the consistency, professionalism and brilliance with which he played, England's box-to-box talent should be considered strongly in the next round.
Agree with the selections?
Who would you include as the first two players to make the Hall of Fame? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!