Sir Tom Finney (born April 5, 1922) was an English association footballer who stands a model of loyalty to his local club Preston North End F.C..
Born Preston, in the adjacent street to the Deepdale stadium, it was to be August 1946 before Finney made his debut for Preston. Finney was a frail and slightly sickly youth, standing only 4 foot 9 inch (1.45 m) at age 14. When he was offered the opportunity to sign for his local club, his father insisted that he complete his apprentiship in the family's plumbing business before signing as a professional.
Having passed that watershed, World War II intervened and normal football was suspended though Finney started to achieve some celebrity during war-time tournaments. Called up to the Royal Armoured Corps in 1942, he was to see action in Montgomery's Eighth Army in Egypt. Local leave in North Africa allowed him to play in forces teams against indiginous opposition, on one occaision lining up against future actor Omar Sharif.
Once normal competition was restored, he soon established his reputation as an agile forward, capable of playing on either wing or in the centre. Post-war demand for plumbers ensured that he had a second income to supplement the GBP 14 he received under football's maximum wage regulations. He became famous as the Preston plumber.
One month after his first appearance for Preston, Finney made his England debut, going on to win 76 caps, scoring 30 goals.
He retired from Preston North End in 1960, only when forced out with a persistent groin injury. He had played his entire career appearing 433 times for his local club, scoring 187 goals. The balance of Preston's team hardly matched Finney's brilliance, the young Bill Shankly not withstanding, and he never won a major trophy. His loyalty is remarkable, even extending to rejecting a 1952 offer from Italian club Palermo that embraced a GBP 10,000 personal signing-on fee and fabulous pay and perquisites.
As of 2004 he maintains his links with Preston North End as club president.
Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in any match and in any age ... even if he had been wearing an overcoat. Bill Shankly
Tom Finney should claim income tax relief ... for his 10 dependents. Satirical observation on the weakness of the Preston team in his absence.
If all the brains in the game sat in committee to design the perfect player, they would come up with a reincarnation of Tom Finney. Anonymous newspaper feature
Footballer of the Year, 1954 and 1957;
OBE, 1961; and
Finney, T (2004) Tom Finney Autobiography ISBN 075531106X
FInney, T (1982) Tom Finney's Preston North End Scrapbook ISBN 0285625543
Finney, T (1958) Finney on Football ISBN B0000CK63X
Finney, T (1955) Instructions to young footballers ISBN B0000CJABP
Finney, T (1953) Football round the world ISBN B0000CIMPY
Agnew, P (2002) Tom Finney: A Football Legend ISBN 0953084795
Booth, J (ed.) (1998) Tom Finney: A Pictorial Tribute ISBN 1901966003