Former Preston and England winger Sir Tom Finney passed away at the age of 91.
Finney was well known in the football fraternity with his more than 400 league appearances for Preston North End between 1946 and 1960 and won 76 caps for England.
He scored 30 goals for England, occupying the joint sixth placing on the all-time list with Alan Shearer and Nat Lofthouse. “Sir Tom was the greatest player to ever play for Preston North End and one of the all time greats for England.”
Preston are due to play Leyton Orient in League One on Saturday at Deepdale.
The statement added: “Preston North End have been informed of the extremely sad news of the passing of Sir Tom Finney.
“The thoughts of everyone at the club, and those connected with it, are with his family at this time,” the Preston statement read.
The FA is saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Tom Finney, one of England's all-time greatest players who won 76 caps. He was 91.
— The FA (@FA) February 14, 2014
David Moyes, United’s manager knew Finney well during his play for and as a manager for Preston in 1993 and 2002, owning a framed picture of the former England international at his home. Speaking before Finney’s death, Moyes said: “Sir Tom was a great help in the early stages of my management career. He had an incredible passion for the game and someone I have great admiration for. There is no doubt he is one of the greatest players but to me he is also a great man.”
BBC chief football correspondent Mike Ingham told BBC Radio 5 live: “He was a slight figure but incredibly brave. Former Preston team-mate and Liverpool manager Bill Shankly considered him to be the greatest player to ever play the game. That’s all you need to know.”
Finney was born in Preston, in the street next to the club’s Deepdale stadium, He was soon name nicknamed the Preston Plumber after completing an apprenticeship with his family’s plumbing business. He was linked with a move to Italian side Palermo in 1952, but Preston chairman Nat Buck suppressed the deal, saying: “If tha’ doesn’t play for us, tha’ doesn’t play for anybody.”
He twice won the footballer of the year title, in 1953-54 and 1956-57, and was twice a runner-up in the league with North End, as well as playing in the 1954 FA Cup final defeat to West Brom.
During his career, he scored 187 league goals for the club but in 1961, a year after he retired, they were relegated from the top flight and have not returned since. Finney maintained his links with Preston, as the club’s president. The stadium is located on Sir Tom Finney Way, a statue stands outside the ground, while inside, a stand was renamed in his honour in 1995. He was knighted in 1998.
Former England and Blackpool defender’Jimmy Armfield told BBC Sport he was a “great footballer and a great man. A fantastic player. He had the ability to play right across the forward line-left wing or right wing-center forward as well.”
Fellow England legend Sir Stanley Matthews, who died in 2000, once said of Finney: “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.”