Arsenal legend and former captain Patrick Vieira has been inducted into the Premier League Hall of Fame, cementing his legendary status in the top flight of English football. The Frenchman is one of two initial inductees for the ‘class of 2022’, joined by ex-Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
Vieira, 45, joined in 1996 from AC Milan, having only made a few competitive appearances for the Rossoneri. While he came to England with mystery, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that didn’t recognise him when he left the club in 2005 for Juventus.
The midfielder became Gunners captain in 2002 following the retirement of Tony Adams, showing his ability to lead a group that went on to become “The Invincibles” and went a full Premier League season without a defeat. His three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and numerous individual awards speak for themselves, but that wouldn’t stop the praise flooding in for him.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gushed about a “special” player when describing Vieira following his retirement in 2011: “You can only have a lot of respect for what Patrick has achieved. His career is sensational. He was an exceptional player for us.
“We have classy players in midfield now but Patrick was special. He was a tall player with good technique. We have exceptional players in midfield with their own character. But at Arsenal we will be forever grateful for Patrick’s contribution.”
Vieira has since gone on to football management, carrying over some of the leadership skills he displayed as captain during his playing days. He has had spells with the New York Red Bulls and Nice before making the move to Crystal Palace in the summer.
The Eagles have impressed this year, going from relegation favourites in pre-season to comfortably mid-table with some cup runs thrown into the mix too. The 45-year-old continues to grow on the footballing stage, even if it is no longer in a playing capacity.
Discussing his induction into the Premier League Hall of Fame, Vieira gave an emotional response and 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.”