The Italian Francesco Totti and the Spaniard Carles Puyol, world champions in 2006 and 2010, respectively, led the ceremony on Tuesday for the 18 new inductees into the International Football Hall of Fame, endorsed by FIFA.
“It is an honor and a pride to be part of this group. Being in the Hall of Fame was beyond my wildest dreams,” said Puyol, winner of 21 titles with Barcelona, at the eleventh induction ceremony held in the city of Pachuca (central Mexico).
For his part, Totti, who spent 25 years with Roma, thanked “the Hall of Fame for giving me the opportunity to be part of this group of great champions, but above all great people.”
Totti and Puyol entered the Hall of Fame as part of the seven personalities in the international football category in which five other legends were included but did not attend the event due to their respective commitments: the Italian Carlo Ancelotti, the Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o, the Spaniard Xavi Hernández, and the Brazilians ‘Kaká’ and ‘Rivaldo’.
In the category of Mexican national football, six personalities were inducted, including four World Cup players from the Mexican national team: Rafael Márquez, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Fernando Quirarte, and Oscar ‘Conejo’ Pérez.
In this national category, the Argentine Ricardo Lavolpe, a coach who has developed almost his entire career in Mexican football, was included, along with the late Emilio Azcárraga, a businessman who promoted the construction of the Azteca stadium.
“Thanks to the one above, to God, for guiding me on the football path that gave me everything, and thanks to Mexico for welcoming me as a player and giving me the profession of a coach and because from here I was called to manage two national teams (Mexico and Costa Rica), as well as managing in my country and Egypt,” stated Lavolpe, world champion in 1978 as the third goalkeeper for Argentina.
The dean category inducted three personalities: the Brazilian José Alves ‘Zague’, one of the top scorers of América de México (who passed away in 2021), Isidoro ‘Chololo’ Díaz, a midfielder during the era of the ‘Campeonísimo’ Guadalajara, and the German Uwe Seeler, legendary forward for Hamburg and the German national team (who passed away in 2022).
“I know there are many players who could be here, but fortunately, it was my turn,” expressed Isidoro Díaz, a midfielder who was part of the Mexican team that won its first World Cup match, in Chile-1962 against Czechoslovakia.
In women’s football, two women were recognized: the Mexican Andrea Rodebaugh, considered one of the best midfielders in her country, and the Brazilian Delma Gonçalves ‘Pretinha’, a forward who participated in four World Cups and four Olympic tournaments.
“It is an honor, I am very happy for the memory of my career, for having contributed in some way to the development of women’s football, for having played in World Cups and for having been chosen,” commented ‘Pretinha’.
Located in Pachuca, the International Football Hall of Fame held its first induction ceremony in 2011; with the members of the eleventh generation, the venue has received 162 personalities.
The 18 members of the eleventh generation were chosen by a Voting Committee made up of more than 140 journalists from 35 countries.