Tom Finney.

Paddy Crerand's Hall of Fame: Sir Tom Finney

Tuesday 27 August 2019 16:10

In our matchday programme, United Review, club legend Paddy Crerand has been reflecting on some of the greatest players he has seen across a 60-year football career as both player and commentator.

In his previous column, the European Cup winner shared his thoughts on Real Madrid forward Alfredo Di Stefano, a player many conceive to be one of the greatest of all time.

Now the Scotsman has turned his attention to Sir Tom Finney, an exciting attacker that excelled for Preston North End and England during the 1940s and 50s.

Before finding out what Paddy had to say on the iconic Lancastrian winger, here's a look back at the career of the player nicknamed 'The Preston Plumber'...


Born in Preston, Lancashire in 1922, Finney played football from a young age at school and in the fields around his home in the north-west. However, his ambition to become a professional footballer was somewhat hindered by his height – he left school in 1936, aged 14, standing only 4ft 9in tall.

Nonetheless, Finney persevered. The following year, the youngster saw an advert for junior players aged between 14 and 18 that had been placed in the local paper by Preston North End. At the trial he impressed and was offered a contract.

The outbreak of the Second World War, however, meant that league and cup football was suspended, but Finney began to make a name for himself through the wartime tournaments, before being called up to fight in Egypt and to drive a tank in Italy.

After the war, Finney made his debut for Preston and, 28 days later, made his first England appearance. Despite advances from Palermo in Italy, Finney remained in Lancashire and was voted Footballer of the Year in 1953/54 and again in 1956/57, becoming the first player to receive the accolade more than once. He picked up his 'Preston Plumber' nickname because this was the profession he worked in to supplement his football-related income, which was limited by the Football Association's maximum wage rule.

Finney retired from football in 1960 due to a persistent groin injury. By the time the forward called time on his career, he had amassed 473 appearances for Preston, scoring 210 goals, as well as playing 76 times for England and scoring 30 international efforts.

He was knighted in 1998 and had a statue, called 'The Splash', built in his honour outside Preston’s home ground in 2004. Finney passed away in 2014, aged 91, and was heralded by fellow legends including Sir Bobby Charlton and Bill Shankly as one of the greatest to play the game.


"Watching Daniel James will make anyone from my generation think of Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney, the two best wingers God ever created. There was always the great argument as to who was best. I played against Matthews when he was about 60 – can you believe that? If you went near him your own fans would give you a roasting! I never played against Finney, but I saw him destroy Scotland 4-0 at Hampden Park in 1958. Bill Shankly used to go on and on about Finney, because he played with him as a young man at Preston. In one-against-one situations, Finney and Matthews were so exciting to watch, but if I had the choice, I would probably go for Tom."

For Paddy’s latest thoughts on all things United, make sure to watch the weekly Paddy Crerand Show on MUTV every Monday. You can also read his full column from the Crystal Palace edition of United Review, which is still available to buy.

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