By 90Min
October 14, 2019

The distinct lack of a Premier League Hall of Fame has long-irked the top brass at 90min, so being the trailblazers that we are, we've done it ourselves. 

How does it operate? You can find that out here, courtesy of the Hall of Fame godfather Sean Walsh.

In the first of the series, though, we're going to dive head first into the class of 2005, and explain why Eric Cantona, Ian Wright, Paul McGrath and Steve Bould deserve their coveted inductions. 


Eric Cantona 

Anton Want/GettyImages
Premier League Clubs Years Played For
Leeds United  1992
Manchester United 1992-1997

The year is 2019. The ever-controversial Cantona, and his glorious partially-grey beard, takes to the stage to accept his award from Gary Neville, who has inexplicably been picked for more TV time to induct the Manchester United hero. 

We're all waiting with bated breath to see what's going to happen, the possibilities are seemingly endless, but he delivers a straightforward speech surprisingly free of any colourful animal-related metaphors, and accepts his award graciously. 

And then as someone heckles him coming off of the stage, we hastily cut to an ad-break just as the culprit receives a swift brogue to the head. 

Most careers would have been ended by controversy that engulfed much of Cantona's five-year spell at Manchester United, but such was his influence on the pitch - scoring 96 goals in 220 appearances in English football - that it serves simply as a footnote to the career of one of the most memorable, enigmatic, forwards ever.


Paul McGrath

Clive Brunskill/GettyImages
Premier League Clubs Years Played For
Aston Villa 1992-97

Paul McGrath, or 'God' as Aston Villa fans call him, had his issues off-field, as did so many of the great players throughout the 80s and 90s. The man many consider to be the best Irish player ever, however, left enough of a mark on the pitch to deem everything else redundant.

Joining Manchester United from St. Patrick's Athletic ten years before the Premier League's inception, he started formidably, but a multitude of injury and personal issues saw him fall out of favour under Sir Alex Ferguson. The Scot eventually opted to move him on to Aston Villa for £400,000, where he would go on to enjoy one of the most remarkable resurgences English football has ever witnessed.

Shoring up the Villa defence, a side that had finished 17th a year earlier went on to pick up a runners-up medal in McGrath's first season, and though his knee injuries wouldn't quite subside, he made 323 appearances for the Villans, lifting the League Cup twice.

He only actually played in the Premier League, rebranded from the First Division in 1992, for four seasons, but he was arguably the finest defender of the division's early years. His performances in the first ever Premier League season saw him named the PFA Players' Player of the Year - only the third time ever that award had been given to a defender.


Ian Wright

Shaun Botterill/GettyImages
Premier League Clubs Years Played For
Arsenal
1992-98
West Ham 1998-99

Ian Wright: "I just think, err, when you consider the way the club is going at the moment, with Aaron Ramsey running his contract down, you've got Laurent Koscielny leaving to play in France, Henrikh Mkhitaryan going to Roma, it can't be a good time to be an Arsenal player. Back in my day, you wouldn't leave Arsenal for anyone." 


Interviewer: "That's all fair enough Ian, but what about your induction into 90min's Premier League Hall of Fame?"


- How Ian Wright's induction speech would have gone...probably. 

It's over 20 years since his last appearance for the Gunners, and he's played for four different clubs since, but Ian Wright still lives and breathes Arsenal. 

And it would be hard not to, given he made himself a bona fide club legend in winning every available domestic honour throughout his seven years with them in the 1990s. A feared, clinical forward, he netted 113 goals in 213 Premier League appearances for the Gunners and West Ham, making him the 19th top scorer in the competition's history. 

His career might have gone out with a whimper rather than a bang, with relatively fruitless spells at Nottingham Forest, Celtic and Burnley, but it matters not to the tens thousands of Highbury regulars who saw him at his devastating peak. 


Steve Bould

Ben Radford/GettyImages
Premier League Clubs Years Played For
Arsenal 1992-99
Sunderland 1999-2000

The last of our first batch of inductees is another who has roots in the First Division era, but his influence lasted well into the 1990s and saw him leave a lasting impression on the Premier League. 

Cutting his teeth in the lower ebbs of the senior football set-up with Stoke in the 80s, Bould, a tough, towering centre-half, was picked up by Arsenal in 1988 as a 25-year-old coming into his prime years, and immediately established himself as first-choice, helping them to First Division titles in 1989 and 1991. 

By the time the Premier League era came rolling around in 1992, then, he was at his peak, and even scored their first ever goal in the competition against Norwich on the opening day of the season - albeit in a match they lost 4-2.

The years to follow would breed differing levels of success, but he counts the 1998 Premier League title among the nine major honours picked up at Highbury, and including a single-season spell at Sunderland as he wound down his career, he made 196 Premier League appearances - earning himself a merited induction into the Hall of Fame.


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