The Premier League inducted the first two players into its Hall Of Fame yesterday. Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer were chosen, with the identity of the next six inductees subject to a vote.
Fans can choose six players from a 23-man shortlist. Players with the most votes – when combined with the Premier League panel’s choice – will enter the hallowed Hall Of Fame.
Let’s take a look at five players who may feel hard done by after not being included on that shortlist.
Just to be clear, players who weren’t retired as of August 2020 aren’t eligible. So that’s why the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney aren’t involved.
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Cech is on the borderline in terms of the retirement rule. He took up a back-room role at Chelsea in June 2019, having played his last professional game for Arsenal in that year’s Europa League final.
However, he was named on the squad list for the Blues this season as cover. Does that mean he’s not strictly viewed as retired?
It seems a petty technicality but is surely the only way to explain Cech’s exclusion from the Hall Of Fame shortlist?
He’s the only goalkeeper in Premier League history to have kept more than 200 clean sheets (202). He also holds the record for most in a single season (24 in 2004/05).
Cech has won the league four times, which matches his amount of Golden Glove awards.
The Czech Republic international was the first Premier League goalkeeper to go 1,000 minutes without conceding. He was also the fastest to reach 50 clean sheets (82 appearances) and 100 clean sheets (180 appearances).
Peter Schmeichel is the only goalkeeper on the list – and Cech and Seaman can feel aggrieved.
The Englishman won the title twice and was named in the domestic team of the decade when it was awarded between 1992 and 2002.
He is fourth on the all-time clean sheets list with 144 from 344 appearances for Arsenal and Manchester City. Mainly Arsenal, of course.
That’s more clean sheets than Schmeichel (128), while Seaman is probably victim of the emphasis on attacking players on the Hall Of Fame shortlist.
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535 appearances for Leeds United, Everton, Newcastle and Bolton Wanderers sees Speed unlucky to be left off the Hall Of Fame shortlist.
That puts Speed sixth on the all-time appearance list and you’d be hard pushed to find a fan at any of those clubs with a bad word to say about the Welshman.
Induction into the Hall Of Fame would be an excellent way to pay tribute to Speed’s memory while acknowledging his quality and professionalism.
The shortlist seems to focus on Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea players. That means you run the risk of ignoring players such as Speed who had such consistent, impressive careers.
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Barry is the man with the most Premier League appearances in history (653). He also won the title with Manchester City in 2012.
He was another excellent professional who showed outstanding longevity during a career that saw him also turn out for Aston Villa, Everton and West Bromwich Albion.
The 23-man Hall Of Fame shortlist has focused on higher-profile clubs and players whose contribution may have been more fleeting but perhaps more eye-catching.
That comes at the cost of players such as Barry, whose appearances record represents a hugely impressive achievement. No wonder his name was trending on Twitter when the shortlist was announced.
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Gary Neville won the Premier League eight times with Manchester United and was named in the PFA team of the season four times.
In the all-time Premier League XI, he would be as good a contender at right-back as anyone.
On top of that, his stock could hardly be higher at the moment as the most high-profile opponent of the European Super League. Neville helped carry the fight to the richest clubs in the country.
Some may argue yet more Manchester United players isn’t what’s required on the Hall Of Fame shortlist. Neville’s record speaks for itself, however.