The National Football Museum has inducted 12 more football legends into its prestigious Hall of Fame at a star-studded ceremony last night.
This year’s inductees include Denis Irwin, who Alex Ferguson regarded pound for pound his greatest ever signing, Liverpool centre half-turned-pundit Mark Lawrenson, and legendary Arsenal and England goalkeeper David Seaman.
Gordon Strachan was inducted for his achievements as a player with Manchester United and Leeds United, along with fellow Scot and Nottingham Forrest alumni John Robertson, who manager Brian Clough once described as the ‘Picasso’ of football.
The honour roll also included Paralympic Great Britain and England Cerebal Palsy player Martin Sinclair; 2006 FA Player of the Year and long-serving Everton left back Rachel Unitt, who has won 102 caps for the England women’s national football team and ex England and Everton goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis.
Legendary ‘one-club’ Liverpool player Billy Liddell received the historians award; with his sons and grandsons attending the event to receive the award from Liverpool and England ’66 winner Ian Callaghan.
Rio Ferdinand, who couldn’t make the ceremony due to prior commitments, but who sent a recorded message, entered the Hall of Fame following his trophy-laden career at Manchester United. The third goalkeeper of the night, Neville Southall, also couldn’t attend, but his award was accepted on his behalf by staunch Evertonian Andy Burnham MP.
The line up was completed with a special award being made to Cambridge University AFC, as the oldest football club in the world
The new inductees have been immortalised next to legends such as Sir Tom Finney, Gordon Banks, Alan Shearer and last year’s inductees Gary Neville and Norman Hunter, whose achievements are already celebrated with a place in the Hall of Fame, a focal point of the museum.
Inductees are chosen by a panel featuring some of the biggest names in football, including the Museum’s President Sir Bobby Charlton, Vice President Sir Alex Ferguson and Gordon Taylor. To qualify for nomination players must have finished their career or be aged over 30 and have played or managed in England for at least five years.
National Football Museum Director Dr. Kevin Moore said: “Once again I can say it’s a privilege to welcome yet more footballing icons to our Hall of Fame. All of this year’s inductees have contributed much to the beautiful game, either on the pitch as a player or in the dugout as a manager.
“As ever, we’re extremely grateful to our main sponsor - the Professional Footballers’ Association, and also to The FA for working with us to deliver the Women’s and Football For All awards. Both organisations have helped us ensure that the Hall of Fame has become one of the most prestigious fixtures in the sporting awards calendar.”
The National Football Museum provides a world-class home for the greatest collection of football memorabilia ever assembled, in addition to housing its nationally recognised Hall of Fame in Manchester.
More than 140,000 objects, works of art and photographs make up this unique collection with over 2,500 on display at any one time. Highlights include its recently launched 1966 World Cup Exhibition, a shirt from the world's first international match played in 1872, and the shirt worn by Maradona during the infamous 1986 ‘Hand of God’ quarter final match between England and Argentina.
Admission is free of charge but, as the museum is a registered charity, it relies on donations from the public and support from the corporate sector.