XI of former Manchester United players who belong in the Premier League Hall of Fame

The Premier League welcomed its first two inductees to its Hall of Fame this week – Thierry Henry and Alan Shearer.

That was followed up by the announcement of a 23-man shortlist from which the next batch of players will be selected.

Ten former United players were included, so we’ve taken on the challenge of rounding it up to a starting 11 by making some tough choices.


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Peter Schmeichel is named on the shortlist, and is arguably the greatest goalkeeper to play for any club in the Premier League era.

Edwin van der Sar and David de Gea have been exceptional for United in the Premier League too, but Schmeichel has to be first into the Hall of Fame.

He’s the only goalkeeper on the shortlist at all and looks a shoo-in to be the first into the Hall of Fame.

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Back four

Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are the only two former United defenders named on the shortlist.

Steve Bruce and Gary Pallister were another formidable central defensive duo at Old Trafford, helping bring that crucial first league title in 1993 but have been overlooked here.

United’s full-backs have been overlooked but there is only one candidate for the right-back spot – Gary Neville.

At left-back, it’s a straight fight between Patrice Evra and Denis Irwin.

The defence with Evra alongside Vidic and Ferdinand at their best was formidable, and set the league record for the most games without conceding a goal – 14 (1,311 minutes) – in 2008–09.

Irwin won the treble, though, so we’ll give him the nod here – but either he or Evra would be worthy of inclusion here.

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Three more treble winners – David Beckham, Roy Keane and Paul Scholes – are included on the shortlist.

Nobody could argue with their selection. Ryan Giggs, the division’s most decorated player, is a notable omission.

Perhaps recent off-field issues have played their part in that.

Cristiano Ronaldo doesn’t meet the criteria for inclusion, because he is still playing and the Premier League want all inductees to have retired on or before 1 August 2020.

That means Giggs rounds off our United midfield on the left.

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Three former United strikers have been named on the shortlist – Eric Cantona, Andy Cole and Robin van Persie.

Wayne Rooney is not eligible because he only retired in January this year.

Cantona is an automatic selection. He made the club what it is today, elevating standards and inspiring that glorious spell in the early to mid 1990s.

He was also crucial in nurturing the fabled Class of ’92 and underlining what is expected at Old Trafford. He is a club icon.

What van Persie did for United – netting the goals to win title number 20 – cannot be forgotten.

But in Premier League terms, Cole is ahead. He’s the third top scorer in the competition’s history and is another treble winner.

Full team: Peter Schmeichel, Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Denis Irwin, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, Andy Cole

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.