Anywhere around the world, if the three words, “Preston North End” are spoken, the name “Sir Tom Finney” is usually uttered not too long after.
Plenty of hearts were broken on Valentine’s Day of 2014 when it was sadly announced that the man that is Preston North End, Sir Tom Finney, had passed away at the age of 91.
Sir Tom was one of Football’s true gentlemen, and although he fell short of winning any honours in his career, he will always be regarded as one of the best footballers to ever grace the English game.
Fittingly, Tom was brought up in a street just a stone’s throw away from Deepdale, and went on to make 433 appearances for the club he used to live merely a street away from, little did he know he would become the biggest legend that the Football Club and the City had to offer.
It’s possible that Sir Tom’s playing career could have begun earlier than 1946, however, he swapped the pride of representing his home team for the pride of fighting for his country in the Second World War.
One of Finney’s passions in life was plumbing, after he completed an apprenticeship and went on to open his own plumbing business with his brother as well as adopting the nickname ‘Preston Plumber.’
Sir Tom managed to keep running his business as well has having a majorly successful playing career with Preston as well as becoming an international, earning himself 76 England caps and scoring 30 goals, including one on his debut, which makes him the joint sixth top goal scorer in England’s history.
It is a testament to Sir Tom that he was never booked or sent off during his playing career, and was the first footballer to be awarded Footballer of the Year twice.
Part of his status as such a legend in Preston is his love of the City. Famed for playing exclusively for one club throughout his career, he was offered £120 a week to play for Italian side Palermo, a massive contrast from his £12 a week wage at Deepdale, but he turned it down, simply because he was a ‘Preston man.’
Sir Tom was recognised by the Queen for his efforts in football and of course fighting for his country, and was knighted in 1998.
Four years later, he was inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame.
The City of Preston is in mourning as it has lost its favourite son, but his statue, his face in his stand at Deepdale, and the Sir Tom Finney way is all a reminder that his legacy will live on.
The man who was dubbed ‘Mr Preston’ has installed pride into generation after generation of PNE fans, and quite firmly, he was the one to install the greatest amount of pride into his club, Preston North End.
Goodnight Sir Tom, you will be missed.