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English football mourns death of Tom Finney

SIR Tom Finney, one of England's greatest ever footballers, has died at the age of 91.

He spent his entire career with hometown club Preston North End, making 473 appearances in a 14-year period, scoring 210 goals along the way.

The club announced the news of his death in a brief statement.

It read: "Preston North End have been informed of the extremely sad news of the passing of Sir Tom Finney.

"Sir Tom was the greatest player to ever play for Preston North End and one of the all time greats for England.

"The thoughts of everyone at the Club, and those connected with it, are with his family at this time."

Finney was born in Preston in April 1922, a street away from Preston's Deepdale ground – a venue that he would go on to grace with great distinction.

It wasn't until his early 20s that the breakthrough into professional football came for Finney.

The Second World War, in which he served as a tank driver in the Royal Armoured Corps, delayed the start of his career, but he had already become known for his footballing skills during his army service.

His debut for Preston came a year after the war and he marked it with a goal.

Finney also did the same when he made his debut for England just a month later.

He played for England for 12 years, including appearances in the 1950, 54 and 58 World Cups.

He was the country's record scorer, with 30 international goals, for five years before Sir Bobby Charlton beat his record in 1963.

With Preston he won the Second Division in 1951, before they went on to finish as runners-up medals in Division One in 1953 and 1958.

He made his only FA Cup final appearance in 1954, in which Preston were beaten by West Bromwich Albion.

Finney was voted Footballer of the Year that season and three years later he became the first man to win it twice.

He was awarded the OBE in 1961, and was knighted at Buckingham Palace in 1998.

Finney had a connection with football in Northern Ireland too.

He was brought out of retirement by Distillery in 1963 for their European Cup meeting with Benfica, which was played in front of a crowd of 19,000 at Windsor Park.

Despite all of his success it was the only time that Finney ever played in Europe's premier club competition.

His final international goal for England also came against Northern Ireland, at Windsor Park in October 1958.

Belfast Telegraph


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