Tom Finney was the Lionel Messi of his time, says Tommy Docherty

Feb 16 2014, 01:20 IST
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SummaryVery sad news that Sir Tom Finney is no longer with us, says Sepp Blatter

The late Tom Finney was the Lionel Messi of his day, said former Preston North End team mate Tommy Docherty on Saturday as he led the tributes to the England great.

Finney, who played in three World Cups and scored a total of 30 goals in 76 international appearances, died on Friday at the age of 91.

"Tom was something else, the Lionel Messi of his day," former Scotland manager Docherty told Talksport Radio, referring to the Argentina and Barcelona forward who won the World Player of the Year award in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

"He was a great person and a lovely man. I never heard him criticise anyone."

Finney was so popular at Preston, his only club, that if he was sidelined the attendances at Deepdale would invariably plummet.

"If Tom was injured they wouldn't tell you the team at all," added former Manchester United and Chelsea manager Docherty. "If he was injured, and that was rare, there would be 20,000 at the game instead of 42,000."

Sepp Blatter, president of soccer's governing body FIFA, also paid tribute to Finney who played in the World Cup finals of 1950, 1954 and 1958.

"Very sad news that Sir Tom Finney is no longer with us," Blatter said on his Twitter feed. "Had privilege of watching @pnefc man play at 1954 WC [World Cup]."

Blatter was also fulsome of his praise when Finney turned 90 in April 2012.

"Not only were you one of the greats of your era, entertaining the entire country during the golden era of post-war English football, but you were also - and still are - one of the game's true gentlemen," said the Swiss at the time.

"True football greats would be capable of playing in any era. You belong to that group."


Finney was voted English Footballer of the Year in 1954 and 1957, the first man to receive the accolade twice.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said: "On behalf of the FA I would like to send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sir Tom Finney.

"He was one of English football's all-time greats and will be much missed across the game. Sir Tom was a true one-club man at Preston and a fantastic player for England.

"He will rightly be forever remembered at Deepdale and Wembley."

Former Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton striker Gary Lineker, England's second highest goal-scorer behind Bobby Charlton, also spoke of his admiration for Finney.

"Sir Tom Finney

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