In addition to the action on the pitch, the coronavirus claimed the scalp of the first-ever Premier League Hall of Fame ceremony set for March.

The Premier League were set to induct the first two players, bestowing upon them the highest honour an individual can receive in English football.

Eligible players must be retired and only their Premier League exploits will be considered, meaning the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez will be scrutinised only for their Premier League stints.

The Premier League has seen its fair share of legendary talents over its near 30 year existence. The likes of Thierry Henry, Alan Shearer, Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard will all definitely receive a Hall of Fame medallion in the coming inductions.

But the process by which the Premier League inducts players remains to be seen, and there are a number of players whose careers will warrant the top English football honour outside of the powerhouse names.

Mark Noble

Since his debut as a 17-year-old in 2004, many a name has come and gone at West Ham United but none is more synonymous with the Irons than long-serving captain Mark Noble.

Now with 375 Premier League appearances and 46 goals, his ever presence at the heart of the Hammers’ midfield makes him one of the longest serving players in the current game.

Taking over as captain in the 2015/16 season, he has been part of the ups and downs of the club, enduring relegations and European campaigns, as well as captaining the team during the said farewell to the Boleyn Ground and the one that anointed the London Stadium.

Based on longevity, his values on and off the pitch and the loyalty to his beloved hammers, Noble is more than deserving of a spot in the Premier League Hall of Fame after his retirement.

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Image – West Ham United

Jermain Defoe

It is somewhat hard to believe that Jermain Defoe has scored 162 Premier League goals, purely for the fact that he is not spoken about in the same breath as those around him in the list.

Sitting at eighth all time, the former Spurs, Portsmouth and Sunderland man has recorded more top flight goals than the likes of Michael Owen, Teddy Sheringham and Robin van Persie.

Wherever Defoe went, he scored goals. He was a part of Tottenham’s renaissance in becoming a regular Champions League outfit, was instrumental in multiple escapes from relegation at Sunderland and earned himself 57 England caps for his exploits.

Off the pitch, his relationship with young Sunderland fan Bradley Lowery during his time at the Black Cats touched the hearts of football fans around the world and saw him awarded an OBE.

A true professional and a consistently high class goalscorer, Defoe does not get the appreciation he deserves and should be a shoe-in for a Hall of Fame medallion.

Defoe
Image – Getty Images

Mark Schwarzer

As far as longevity goes, Australian Mark Schwarzer is up there with some of the most esteemed players the league has seen.

A total of 514 Premier League appearances is enough to have him in eighth place all-time and second amongst goalkeepers, surpassed only by David James.

Schwarzer was part of what was arguably the best ever Fulham team, making the Europa League Final under Roy Hodgson in 2010 having spent 13 seasons at Middlesbrough previously.

The Aussie was part of two title-winning teams being Chelsea in 2014/15 and Leicester City two years later, but is unfortunate not to have a winners’ medal for either due to not registering an appearance in either season.

Nonetheless, Jose Mourinho waxed lyrical of the impact the then veteran had on the Chelsea team behind the scenes as his career came to an end in very honourable fashion, and could be furthered by recognition in the Premier League Hall of Fame.

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Image – HITC

Kevin Nolan

In quite similar fashion to Defoe, Kevin Nolan really flies under the radar when it comes to the conversation of Premier League greats.

He was as good as it gets as a goalscoring midfielder, netting 69 times in the top flight across 13 seasons with Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and West Ham as well as captaining each team.

He made the chicken dance his trademark celebration every time he found the net, over his 401 appearances and was the type of player fans of every club could enjoy watching.

With leadership, determination and quality in the no.10 position, Nolan is another who is well in the conversation for the highest honour in English football.

Craig Bellamy

Only one player has ever scored for seven different Premier League clubs. Coventry City, Newcastle, Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool, Manchester City, West Ham and Cardiff City all have the name Craig Bellamy on a scoresheet in their history.

The Welshman scored a total of 81 goals in his 294 Premier League games, perhaps his most memorable being a scorcher at Old Trafford in a Manchester Derby.

Predominantly a left-winger, Bellamy had the consistency at the top to continue scoring goals each season, no matter the club, in a very different game when wingers were not the goalscoring threat they are today.

The fact he played for seven clubs could be seen as a negative, but him performing in each stadium he took to is the hallmark of consistency at the top level of the game and worthy of recognition in the Hall of Fame.

 

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Nick Hughes
nick.hughesy6@gmail.com