Michael Cronin has tonight been named the first ever “Champion of Parramatta” at the Dyldam Parramatta Eels Hall of Fame Legends Gala Dinner at The Star.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, Cronin was chosen as the first Champion from 16 eligible candidates by the Hall of Fame judging panel, Eels Members and supporters, as well as votes from his Hall of Fame peers.

The Champion of Parramatta status was created to recognise men of exceptional club spirit, known for their dedication to the club both past and present, on and off the field, and all Hall of Fame Legends must have been part of the Hall of Fame for more than ten years to be considered.

Speaking at the Gala Dinner, Eels Chairman Steve Sharp described a Champion as a man whose qualities of sportsmanship, selflessness and commitment to excel extend beyond the boundaries of a football field.

“I define a champion as someone who not only values his own performance but most importantly puts his team and his club above all else,” Sharp said.

“It’s these values that we want to entrench into the DNA of our club, our players and everyone associated with the Parramatta Eels.”

Cronin’s teammates Steve Edge and Brett Kenny paid tribute to the newly-named Champion, describing him as a ‘rock’ to play alongside, and one of the greatest to play the game.

“I’ve always said I believe the reason I was able to achieve what I did in my career was because of the upbringing that I had playing with Mick Cronin,” Kenny said.

“You knew he would be one of the greats in the game. He was a guy who played for country, went on and played for Australia and then of course came and joined Parramatta and was probably one of the best signings Parramatta has ever had in the history of the club.”

“He was certainly a great player, moreso a great bloke. He was and still is one of my idols.”

“To me, if we were in a pressure situation and I had a choice of who to give a goal kick to, I would give it to him,” Edge said, referring to Cronin’s career with the boot.

“He just so cool under pressure, and he was just a terrific player.”

Earlier in the evening, former club and New Zealand Kiwis Captain Nathan Cayless and club founder Jack Argent were inducted as the 24th and 25th Legends in the Eels Hall of Fame.