UEFA announced this afternoon that they will create a hall of fame to honour Europe’s top players ahead of this weekend’s Champions League final.
Details on the plans remain sketchy at this stage but with so many great players calling it a career at the end of this season, we’re already wracking our brains to think who should be inducted.
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin announced the idea earlier this afternoon, “We will spend the next few months creating all the criteria and we’re sure that many players who played in Europe and finished their fantastic careers deserve a place in the hall of fame.”
However while the big wigs at UEFA decide on what sort of attributes you need to have before being considered, we’re putting the cart firmly before the horse and naming our own candidates.
So, here goes.
1. Francesco Totti
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Francesco Totti pulled the curtain down on his fabulous 25-year Roma career against Genoa on Sunday – and quite rightfully so.
We all grew up watching Totti terrorise defenders and scoring goals, so with Ceferin confirming this year’s UEFA president’s award is going to the legendary frontman, inducting him into the hall of fame seems the next logical step.
Yes, there are players who won more silverware than Bimbo de Oro (Totti has only won four major trophies to date) but few have had such a strong impact on the neutral football fan as the Italian striker.
Inducting Totti into the hall of fame would serve as the perfect bookend to a sensational spell in Italy’s Serie A.
2. Paolo Maldini
Paolo Maldini may be the greatest defender to ever lace his boots, having spent 24 years captaining a miserly yet hugely successful AC Milan back,line.
Along the way, Maldini lifted UEFA’s top trophy on now fewer than five occasions, making him the second most successful player in Champions League history.
That alone makes Maldini worthy of an induction into the hall, however, you can also throw in to the mix that almost every human on planet earth would name the 48-year-old in their ‘dream XI’.
Il Capitano already has a place in Milan’s hall of fame, it seems only a matter of time before he’s rewarded by UEFA as well.
Xavi is often recognised as Spain’s greatest ever player, and it isn’t hard to see why when you look at what the pint-sized midfielder achieved on the grandest stage.
Xavi was the heartbeat in both Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona and Vicente del Bosque’s unfaltering Spain side, acting as both team’s conductor from his midfield base.
Without the 37-year-old, who is still playing for Qatari club Al Sadd, it’s hard to imagine Barca would have dominated Europe with such style and grace as they did between 2008 and 2012.
Xavi embodied total football, often passing to a teammate rather than going for glory himself – there were few better on their day than Barca’s most-famous number 6.
4. Johan Cruyff
Someone that deserves a place in the hall of fame for both his exploits on the pitch and his revolutionary tactics from the sideline is Johan Cruyff.
With Cruyff passing away in 2016, his former club Ajax have decided to rename their stadium in his honour – a touching tribute for a man who’s impact on the Amsterdam-based side is still being felt to this day.
However, UEFA are well overdue in handing a similar honour the the Netherland’s most iconic sportsman.
Without Cruyff it’s difficult to imagine what football would be like today, as he brought passion, flair and devastating skill to the masses.
Cruyff won three Balon d’Ors during his career along with numerous titles at Ajax and Barcelona – however his legacy goes far beyond what silverware he collected and that should be rewarded with a hall of fame induction.
5. Kenny Dalglish
It’s hard to imagine many Scots would disagree with the statement that Kenny Dalglish is the best player this country has ever produced.
Dalglish won three European Cups with Liverpool during his playing career and has already cemented his place into the Scottish and English Halls of Fame.
There will undoubtedly be a host of players who make it into UEFA’s consideration before Dalglish, as he’s often a sidenote compared to players who played for the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
However, Scotland deserves some recognition for the impact it has had on European football and there’s no better place to start than with the best of the lot – King Kenny.