Football - Thousands bid farewell to "England's greatest" Finney

English soccer bade farewell on Thursday to former Preston North End and England winger Tom Finney, who died this month aged 91.

Reuters

Thousands lined the streets of Preston in north-west England and applauded his cortege as it passed Deepdale stadium, home of his only club.

The city came to a standstill for his funeral and the service at Preston Minster was attended by 600 mourners, including Bobby Charlton, Jimmy Armfield and Tommy Docherty.

Docherty, who played more than 300 games for Preston, told the congregation that Finney was "the greatest player I have ever seen. When I see Lionel Messi on the television playing for Barcelona I think maybe you could be as good as Tom.

"He was quiet and modest but he was amazing, he had two great feet and made ordinary players on his team look good - and I should know."

Finney, who was knighted in 1998 for services to football, scored 30 goals for England in 76 internationals and played 569 matches for Preston from 1946 until he retired in 1960.

Preston born and bred, Finney never won a major honour but was the first player to win England's Footballer of the Year award twice, in 1954 and 1957.

The vicar of Preston, Father Timothy Lipscomb, said in his address: "We remember his loyalty, his humility, his respect for local traditions and his self-effacing nature."

England and Denmark players will wear black armbands and fans will be asked to celebrate Finney's life with a minute's applause before next week's friendly international at Wembley.

The armbands and applause will also be a mark of respect for former Denmark coach Richard Moeller Nielsen who died this month aged 76.

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