As the latest inductee for the Premier League Hall of Fame for his role as captain of Arsenal’s "Invincibles", Patrick Vieira says being a role model for young players is what satisfies him the most.
“What makes me happy and proud is when you're looking at those new young holding midfielders and they say they want to play like Patrick Vieira," he says in an exclusive interview to mark his induction. "That is something really special.”
Vieira, now manager of Crystal Palace, is one of the first two Hall of Fame inductees of 2022, alongside Manchester United and Everton legend Wayne Rooney.
Fans will be able to vote for six more players to join them when the 25-man shortlist is announced later today.
See: Premier League Hall of Fame
A colossal presence in the heart of Arsenal’s midfield from 1996 to 2005, Vieira combined a fighting spirit, with athleticism and power, alongside playmaking prowess and an eye for goal to win three Premier League titles and one Player of the Season award.
🥁 Introducing our latest @PremierLeague Hall of Fame inductee...— Arsenal (@Arsenal) March 23, 2022
🔴 Games: 307
⚽️ Goals: 31
🎯 Assists: 34
🥇 POTY awards: 1
🏆 Premier League titles: 3
🎶 Vieira, woooah 🎶
Ian Wright, a team-mate in Arsenal’s maiden Premier League title triumph in 1997/98, believes Vieira was incomparable.
"You won't be able to speak about midfielders in the Premier League without mentioning Patrick Vieira's name," Wright says.
Vieira's playing peak was when he led Arsenal to becoming the first club to win the Premier League Trophy without a defeat throughout the whole of the 2003/04 season.
Jamie Redknapp was with north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur that season says “The Invincibles" were the best side he had ever faced and Vieira played a big role in that.
"They had everything," Redknapp says. "No way would they have achieved what they did without Patrick Vieira in that team."
Arsene Wenger was Vieira’s manager and mentor during his nine-year spell at Arsenal and the Frenchman born in Senegal credits the man who signed him from AC Milan for taking his game to the next level.
“Arsene was the person who really made me grow as a man and as a football player,” says Vieira. “In your career you need to have a special person around you to guide you, and Arsene was that person for me.”
Congratulations, @OfficialVieira 👏#CPFC | @premierleague— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) March 23, 2022
Wenger says it was, though, who was responsible for his development. “Ninety-nine per cent of the credit is for him," Wenger says of Vieira. "You can help people who want to be big stars but it has to come from them, from their desire, from their mental strength.”
In total, Vieira scored 31 goals and provided 34 assists in 307 matches across a Premier League career that included two seasons at Manchester City.
Part 1: Rooney and Vieira join Premier League Hall of Fame
Part 2: Shearer: Rooney leaves legacy as Man Utd's greatest striker