Sir Tom Finney has joined a world football Hall of Fame for stars of the game honoured with a statue.
The much-admired Splash is one of 350 soccer sculptures included in a new database put together with help from a student at the University of Central Lancashire.
Preston’s most famous son, whose bronze adorns a fountain in front of the Deepdale stadium he graced as a player, is amongst 80 figures in the UK detailed on From Pitch To Plinthe: The Sporting Statues Project created by Dr Chris Stride from the University of Sheffield, assisted for the past three years by Ffion Thomas, a postgraduate student from UCLan.
Dr Stride said: “The earliest footballer statue identified, an anonymous player, can be found in Copenhagen, Denmark and was sculpted in 1903. Real Madrid were the first club to erect statues at their stadium in 1925.
“However, almost 95 per cent of football statues have been created since 1990 and over half in the last decade, showing it to be a largely modern phenomenon.”
The UK leads the way, with China close behind on 75, Germany 36, Brazil 27 and Argentina 14. In total just under 300 footballers are honoured, together with chairmen, broadcasters and fans.
In addition to Sir Tom, there are a host of statues in the North West including Jimmy Armfield at Blackpool, Nat Lofthouse at Bolton, Dixie Dean at Goodison Park, Bill Shankly at Anfield and Jack Walker, the owner and benfactor who took Blackburn Rovers to the Premier League. Old Trafford has Sir Matt Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson and greats George Best, Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton.