Wayne Rooney and Patrick Vieira have been named as the first inductees of the Class of 2022 into the Premier League Hall of Fame.
Rooney is second on the list of all time top goalscorers, since the league started in 1992, and is also third on the list of assists.
The Derby County boss is also Manchester United’s all time top scorer, and England’s, and won the league title on five occasions, after bursting onto the scene with Everton with that memorable goal against Arsenal.
Vieira is considered one of the greatest midfielders to have graced England’s top tier in the past 31 years, and well remembered for his rivalry with Roy Keane.
The Frenchman won the league three times with Arsenal and was captain of the incredible Invincibles side of 2004, the last Gunners’ side to win the league.
Both men couldn’t be more deserving of the reward of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, which the Premier League consider to be the ‘greatest honour’ that can be awarded to a player.
Speaking about the honour, Rooney said, “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.
“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.”
Vieira, who also won the FA Cup with Manchester City, alongside his many achievements with Arsenal, said, “Being inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame is a fantastic achievement.
“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.”
The Premier League opened their Hall of Fame last year, with Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry the first two players inducted, which was a no brainer.
Fans were then given the chance to vote six more legends of the modern era, with Eric Cantona, Roy Keane, Dennis Bergkamp, David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard earning the honour.
They will once again be invited to vote for the next six inductees in this year’s class, and will have 25 nominees to pick from.
Those will be announced later on Wednesday, and voting will take place on the Premier League’s website and app, with the six men joining Rooney and Vieira announced later in April.
As well as their medallions, the Premier League donates £10,000 to each inductees charity of choice.
Featured Image Credit: PA