The Premier League is set to add to its Hall of Fame, and three Liverpool players deserve to be in the conversation to join the likes of Steven Gerrard.
The Premier League Hall of Fame is back. Launched in 2021, it saw Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard join seven others as an inaugural inductee.
A further eight names were added the following year, but with no additional Liverpool representation. Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen got as far as the shortlist, but were not selected by public vote.
The process will be similar this year, with two candidates selected by the Premier League, and a further three selected by public vote. The 15-man shortlist to be voted on will be unveiled on Thursday.
The criteria are relatively straightforward, but do not represent especially good news for Liverpool. Candidates must have retired, and only their Premier League careers are up for consideration — the Reds have won the league just once since its rebranding, and all of the players involved are still playing.
That rules out someone like Mohamed Salah, who would otherwise surely be in the conversation. Even James Milner, now just two appearances away from overtaking Hall of Fame resident Frank Lampard to become the Premier League’s third-highest appearance-maker of all time, could easily have been in with a shout, having also won the league with Manchester City.
But even with the regulations that are in place, three Liverpool players should be in the conversation.
Milner is not the only Liverpool representative in the Premier League list of the all-time top 10 appearance-makers. Jamie Carragher slots in at number nine, having turned out in the league on 508 occasions.
Of course, the criteria technically mean his Champions League heroics cannot be considered. Nor will his domestic trophies count in his favor. And no Liverpool fan needs reminding that he does not have a Premier League title to his name.
However, he was involved in numerous thrilling title races, consistently competing at the top end of the Premier League over a career spanning three different decades. Among the list of players to have played the most games in the division, arguably only Lampard and Ryan Giggs enjoyed more successful careers.
And the Hall of Fame cannot simply be a procession of players to have played in the very best teams. For it to have any real meaning, it must recognize individuals who have given outstanding service. Carragher fits that bill.
Perhaps it can be third time lucky for the man simply nicknamed ‘God’, who has appeared on the shortlist in both 2021 and 2022. To earn such a moniker from the Kop speaks volumes, and he must surely be a serious contender this time around.
Sitting in the all-time top 10 for goals in the Premier League, Fowler is massively under-appreciated by the newest generation of fans. That’s just the way the sport goes to a certain extent, but the point of the Hall of Fame should be to enshrine players like this in the history books, making sure their exploits are not forgotten.
A wickedly instinctive finisher, Fowler is currently 32 goals up the road from Salah for overall Premier League goals, although the Egyptian surpassed his Liverpool tally with his recent brace against Manchester United.
A recent participant in the Legends game, Sami Hyypiä helped Liverpool keep a clean sheet against Celtic. At times, it looked as though the 49-year-old could still do a job for the first team.
A center-back who was somewhat ahead of his time, he was always comfortable with the ball at his feet, bringing an assuredness on which Gérard Houllier and then Rafael Benítez built their solid defensive spines.
Playing every game in his maiden Liverpool season, Hyypiä helped the team to a finish in the Champions League places, conceding just 30 goals along the way. He would keep the team at this figure or below five more times, including as a mainstay in the 2005/06 side that conceded just 25 times.
Hyypiä is probably the least likely to make the Hall of Fame (or indeed the shortlist) this time around, but he deserves to be in the discussion, particularly as the entity continues to expand. With over 300 appearances, he is certainly eligible.