Sir Tom Finney, one of England’s greatest ever footballers, has died. The former England international was 91. In a remarkable career, Finney became famous for his loyalty to his home-town club, Preston North End, appearing for the Lancashire team 433 times between 1946 and 1960.
Finney was born in a house close to the Deepdale stadium that he would go on to grace for more than 15 years. Having completed his apprenticeship in the family business, earning him the nickname 'The Preston Plumber', Finney went on to represented England 76 times, scoring 30 goals. He was awarded an OBE in 1961, a CBE in 1992 and was knighted in 1998.
Preston North End tweeted: "Preston North End have been informed of the extremely sad news of the passing of Sir Tom Finney." Lancashire FA said: "One of this great county's football legends has finally left the field of play. God bless you Sir Tom Finney and may you rest in peace. #RIP".
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Sir Tom maintained links to Preston North End into later life, serving as the club's president. The Deepdale stadium is currently located on Sir Tom Finney Way and the ground's old West Stand was renamed the Sir Tom Finney stand in 1995, with his image on its seats. A statue outside the stadium's National Football Museum depicts a famous image of Sir Tom splashing through a puddle during a game at Chelsea in 1956. Former team-mate Bill Shankly, who himself made 297 appearances with Preston North End before going on to huge success as Liverpool manager, said that, if pressed, he would say Sir Tom was "the best player ever born".
Stanley Matthews, who is the only English footballer ever to be knighted while still playing, said of Sir Tom: "To dictate the pace and course of a game, a player has to be blessed with awesome qualities. Those who have accomplished it on a regular basis can be counted on the fingers of one hand - Pele, Maradona, Best, Di Stefano, and Tom Finney." And Sir Bobby Charlton said: "Sir Tom Finney was one of the greatest footballers there has ever been - he was the type of player that people would travel a long way to see.