SIR Tom Finney was honoured by the great and the good of British football at his funeral yesterday.
Thousands of people lined the streets to see the funeral cortege as it travelled from Deepdale stadium to Preston Minster.
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The minster itself was packed with many figures from football and the city to pay tribute to the former Preston North End and England winger, who died aged 91 two weeks ago.
Finney won 76 caps and scored 30 international goals, and played for Preston all his career, making 569 first-class appearances.
Blackburn Rovers managing director and former Preston End North End chairman Derek Shaw, who attended Sir Tom’s funeral, said: “It is a very, very sad day.
“Everyone in the game knows what a legend and what a thoroughly nice man he was but many might not know about the great charity work he did throughout his life as well.
“You could not have met a more pleasant, helpful, friendly man.
“He was an absolute gem of a man who will be very, very difficult to replace.”
Clarets legend Jimmy McIlroy and the former Burnley goalkeeper Colin McDonald were also at the funeral representing Burnley Football Club.
Sir Trevor Brooking, the former England international who represented the Football Association at the funeral service, said: “He was one of the most genuine individuals you would ever be likely to meet. Everyone admired and respected him.
“To come to this event today, over 50 years since he played, and see all these people both here in the minster and on the streets, I can't think of many who would get the same reaction.
“As a player, he was the match-winner, the crowd-pleaser, the one who could make the difference – I was a youngster in primary school when he was playing, I would watch him on a black and white telly and then go out into the garden with my brother to try to emulate him.”
Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey was also among those at the service, and he said: "The great and the good of football have come out to say farewell to Sir Tom Finney - a man who was a genuine legend.”
“You only have to mention Preston and Preston North End...the conversation soon turns to Tom Finney and that sums up everything the man did for the club, the city and the game of football.”