KEIR RADNEDGE in MEXICO CITY: Sir Alex Ferguson led the way – whether he knew it or not – in the latest elections to the Football Hall of Fame based in Pachuca, north of Mexico City.
The voting panel, drawn from the Mexican and international media, chose the former Manchester United manager, as top of its pops in the international category*.
Also voted in with Ferguson were Brazilian 1994 World Cup-winning striker Romario, former Colombia playmaker Carlos Valderrama and Argentina’s 1978 World Cup-winning manager Cesar Luis Menotti.
The election process was overseen by Jesus Martinez Patino, millionaire owner of the Pachuca club – one of the oldest in Mexican football – and Mexican federation president Justino Compean.
The Pachuca Group runs not only the Sala de la Fama de Futbol but a football museum with a World Cup memorabilia exhibition and interactive centre as well as a new state-of-the-art sports medical centre.
Voted in to the veterans’ category were Italy’s 1934 and 1938 World Cup-winning inside forward Giuseppe Meazza, old Basque hero Isidro Langara – who played with success in Mexico – and the visionary Real Madrid president Santiago Bernabeu.
Mexican domestic inductees were ex-internationals and World Cup coaches Javier Aguirre and Manuel Lapuente as well as sports benefactor Nemesio Diez. The women’s football vote went to Leonardo Cueller, the World Cup midfielder turned women’s national team coach.
Previous inductees includes the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano, Pele, Bobby Charlton, George Weah and Paolo Maldini.
Exhibits in the Hall of Fame museum includes a medal commemorating the first international match played in Mexico, held between a local side and an English XI in 1902.
The museum itself was built in 2005 and was converted to its present use after being planned originally as a museum of contemporary art. It was opened in 2011 by the then President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, accompanied by the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera and FIFA’s Sepp Blatter.
Previous years’ inductees:
International football: Pelé, Mario Zagallo, Garrincha, Ferenc Puskas, Lev Yashin, Franz Beckenbauer, Diego Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff, Eusebio, Gerd Müller, Alfredo Di Stéfano, Lothar Matthäus
National (Mexican) football: Hugo Sánchez, Antonio ‘Tota’ Carbajal, Ignacio Trelles, Raúl Cárdenas, Jorge Campos, Miguel Marín, Enrique Borja, Carlos Reinoso, Guillermo Cañedo de la Bárcena, Salvador Reyes, Evanivaldo Castro ‘Cabinho’, Luis ‘Pirata’ Fuente, Horacio Casarín, Héctor Hernández, José Saturnino Cardozo.
International football – administrator: Jules Rimet. Coach: Rinus Michels. Players: Just Fontaine, Obdulio Varela, Bobby Moore, Marco Van Basten, Mario Alberto Kempes, Emilio Butragueno, Dino Zoff, Ricardo Zamora.
Veterans (Mexican football) – administrator: Guillermo Aguilar Álvarez. Coach: Javier de la Torre. Players: Juan ‘Trompo’ Carreño, José Antonio Roca, Fernando Marcos.
Footballers (Mexican): Carlos Hermosillo, Alex Aguinaga, Luis Hernandez, Jaime ‘Tubo’ Gomez, Benjamín Galindo, Cristóbal Ortega, Luis Roberto Alves ‘Zague’, Manuel Negrete.
International: Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, George Weah, Jorge ‘Mágico’ González.
National (Mexican football): Luis Fernando Tena, Alfredo Tena, Bora Milutinovic.
Veterans (Mexican): Adalberto ‘Dumbo’ López, Rafael Garza Gutiérrez ‘Record’, Renato Cesarini
Women’s football: Mia Hamm.