Patrick Vieira and Wayne Rooney have become the latest footballing figures to be inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame.
Vieira was the heartbeat of Arsenal's midfield between 1996 and 2005, helping the Gunners to three Premier League titles. He was also part of the Invincibles side that did not lose a single game during the 2003/04 season.
Meanwhile, Rooney is Manchester United's all-time record Premier League goalscorer, registering 183 strikes over 13 seasons. He won the title five times, including on three occasions consecutively between 2006/07 and 2008/09, and enjoyed two fruitful spells with Everton as well.
“Being inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame is a fantastic achievement," Vieira said. "When I received the news, I thought about being a young boy playing in Senegal, or in a suburb of Paris.
"To be there with the best players in the Premier League, the best league in the world, is bigger than what I was ever thinking about. To have my name around those players makes me proud and makes me realise how good I was.
“It’s not bad company to join. I was lucky to play at the same time as some of them, of course including Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, so to share the stage with them makes me realise I had a really good career.
“What really makes me happy and proud is when your name is mentioned by new, up-and-coming holding midfielders as an example of how they would like to play.”
Rooney, currently manager of Derby County, was also delighted to be honoured.
"It's a huge honour for me to be named in the Premier League Hall of Fame, alongside an incredible group of players who have already been inducted," Rooney said.
"Growing up, I watched the Premier League as far back as I can remember. My dream was always to become a professional footballer, score goals and win trophies, and I was lucky enough to win the Premier League five times.
"I have so many brilliant memories from my years playing for Everton and Manchester United, and I'm really proud of what we achieved. To enter the Hall of Fame is very special for me personally and I'm grateful to be recognised."
A shortlist of 25 additional nominees who are eligible for the 2022 class of the Premier League Hall of Fame will be announced later today, and fans will be able to vote for their favourites.
Premier League Hall of Fame 2021
- Alan Shearer
- Thierry Henry
- David Beckham
- Dennis Bergkamp
- Eric Cantona
- Steven Gerrard
- Roy Keane
- Frank Lampard
- The 23 Premier League Hall of Fame nominees - ranked
- David Beckham revealed as final inductee of Premier League Hall of Fame class of 2021
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