Civic funeral for Sir Tom Finney
A civic funeral will be held for former England and Preston North End footballer Sir Tom Finney, who died this week aged 91, it has been announced.
The forward made 433 appearances for PNE between 1946 and 1960, and won 76 caps for his country, scoring 30 goals.
Preston City Council has announced plans to hold a civic funeral at Preston Minster for Sir Tom - nicknamed the "Preston Plumber" after completing an apprenticeship with his family's plumbing business - in the town on February 27.
It will be followed by a private service for his family, the council added.
Two books of condolence have been opened, and the campaign to hold a civic funeral received a staggering 10,000 likes on Facebook.
Leader of the council, Peter Rankin, said: "It is difficult to believe Sir Tom has died.
"He is probably the most important Prestonian that has ever lived and we are all deeply saddened at the news of his death. All our thoughts are with Sir Tom's family at this difficult time. Sir Tom was a role model for all.
"A true gentleman and an ambassador not just for football but for the City of Preston and indeed England as a whole. Sir Tom was and is a true football legend. His like will never be seen again.
"Whilst the people of Preston are in mourning now, we must give thanks for the wonderful life of Sir Tom Finney and the legacy that he leaves.
"Rest in Peace Sir Tom, you have done us all proud."
A statue outside the stadium's National Football Museum depicts a famous image of Sir Tom splashing through a puddle during a game at Chelsea in 1956.
Several former and current stars paid tribute following the death of Sir Tom, who was knighted in the 1998 Queen's New Year Honours list.
Sir Bobby Charlton said: "Sir Tom Finney was one of the greatest footballers there has ever been - he was the type of player that people would travel a long way to see."
The late Bill Shankly, a former team-mate of Sir Tom's who himself made 297 appearances with Preston North End before going on to huge success as Liverpool manager, is quoted as saying that, if pressed, he would say Sir Tom was "the best player ever born".
And the late Sir Stanley Matthews, who is the only English footballer ever to be knighted while still playing, once said of Sir Tom: "To dictate the pace and course of a game, a player has to be blessed with awesome qualities.
"Those who have accomplished it on a regular basis can be counted on the fingers of one hand - Pele, Maradona, Best, Di Stefano, and Tom Finney."
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