Feb 14, 2014, 6:27 PM EDT
Preston North End legend Sir Tom Finney, nicknamed the “Preston Plumber,” has passed away at the age of 91, according to the BBC and other reports. The club confirmed the report.
Life may not be forever, but loyalty is.
Finney was the perfect embodiment of loyalty, playing his entire career for his hometown club Preston North End. He made 433 league appearances for the club, scoring 187 goals.
He also scored 30 goals for England in 76 appearances, and was one of only two surviving members of the 1950 England World Cup squad that fell to the United States 1-0. His death, along with that of Bert Williams last month, leaves Roy Bentley as the sole survivor.
Finney scored 30 international goals, even with Alan Shearer and Nat Lofthouse for sixth on England’s all-time list.
Known by many as a small yet brave attacker, he had received plaudits from many top members of the game. Former Liverpool manager Bill Shankey called him the greatest player to ever play. Former Manchester United and Chelsea boss Tommy Docherty said Lionel Messi is “Finney reborn.”
Finney became the first player to win Footballer of the Year in England twice, receiving the award in back-to-back years in the 1953/54 season where he lost in the FA Cup final to West Brom, and again in 1956/57.
His career wasn’t without hardship. Soon after signing his first professional contract with Preston North End, he was called into action in the Second World War. He fought in the African and Italian theaters, keeping up with the sport during his down time.
Outside the original site of the National Football Museum in Deepdale resides a statue of Finney, entitled “The Splash” which depicts a moment captured on photograph of Finney shaking defenders on a water-logged Stamford Bridge pitch in 1956.
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