Sir Tom Finney: England legend is 85 today

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One of the truly good guys. A lifelong Preston North End’er who spurned money and fame to play for the one club. Finney was the standout in a team with very few stars. His career spanned 473 matches for PNE and as a striker he scored 210 goals. With his speed and skill, he attracted offers from many clubs including Palermo whose offer of a £10,000 personal signing-on fee was a staggering sum in 1952. His wages would have shot up from £14 to £100. PNE and Finney turned them down. He never won a trophy with PNE. His best chance was when PNE lost the FA Cup to the Addicks in 1954.
But he was an exceptional player and the inimitable Bill Shankly, his PNE team mate had this to say “I would have played Tom Finney in his overcoat – there would have been four men marking him when we were kickin’ in.” Finney went onto play for England 76 times and scored 30 goals, arguably England’s finest player. Bill Shankly become Liverpool’s greatest manager.
This accolade is from the National Football Hall of Fame where Sir Tom Finney is an inductee. He brings back memories of the days when wingers were in fashion and teams sported a 2-3-5 formation.
“He epitomised his era with dashing forward play and his 76 England caps were won in FOUR different positions. Forty appearances were made at outside-right, and, because he was truly two-footed, though naturally left footed, another 33 internationals were played on the opposite flank. Tom played three times at centre forward and once at inside- forward.
Finney’s brilliant play was eclipsed by the declining English fortunes on the international stage. He played in the 1950, 1954, and 1958 World Cup squads along side greats like Sir Stanley Matthews, Stan Mortensen, Billy Wright, Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks, and Sir Alf Ramsey. Finney was in the 1950 squad that saw the US winning 1-0, in one of soccer’s most stunning upsets. For soccer junkies, this match was made into a movie, The Game of Their Lives. Finney scored two goals for these England squads that saw them crashing out in the first rounds with the exception of the 1954 team that went onto the quarterfinals. In 1966, Sir Alf Ramsey finally did away with the traditional W system of attack and with England’s success, the winger system was buried.
Sir Tom Finney is now Preston North End’s president and they are having a banner year with a fantastic shot at getting back to the top tier after 46 years. David Nugent just became the second Preston player in 49 years to score a goal for England in a win against Andorra. The last one to do so, Sir Tom Finney in 1958 against N.Ireland.
An interview dug up with Sir Tom Finney in which he talks about his days in PNE, World War II and his team mate, Bill Shankly. Fascinating stuff.

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