Wembley to rise for Sir Tom

England are set to honour former international Sir Tom Finney this evening at Wembley
England are set to honour former international Sir Tom Finney this evening at Wembley
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Fans and players at Wembley Stadium will honour Sir Tom Finney’s memory when England begin their build-up to the World Cup tonight against Denmark.

Players of both sides are to wear black arm bands for the international friendly, and there is to be a minute’s applause ahead of the 8pm kick-off.

Members of Sir Tom’s family have been invited to the game which is the first England fixture since the former Preston North End winger passed away last month at the age of 91.

Sir Tom played 76 times for England, scoring 30 goals.

His international debut came in September 1946 – just a month after his official PNE debut – against Northern Ireland at Windsor Park, and he found the net in a 7-2 win.

He scored eight goals in his first eight England appearances, including two in a 5-2 victory over Belgium.

In May 1950, Sir Tom netted four goals as England beat Portugal 5-3 in Lisbon.

That was shortly before the 1950 World Cup finals in Brazil, a tournament in which the Preston Plumber played all three of England games – including the infamous 1-0 defeat to the United States.

Sir Tom played in three World Cups for England – 1950, 1954 and 1958 – and is only one of 11 England players to have done so.

He holds the record as England’s oldest scorer in a World Cup, that being as a 36-year-old in a 2-2 draw against the Soviet Union in Gothenburg in June 1958.

In October 1958, he scored the last of his 30 international goals against Northern Ireland, at the time becoming his county’s all-time record goalscorer.

And later the same month, Sir Tom made his final appearance for England, that being a 5-0 hammering of the Soviet Union at Wembley.

Only five players – Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker, Jimmy Greaves, Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney – have since bettered Sir Tom’s 30-goal haul.

The first of Sir Bobby Charlton’s 49 England goals was set up by Sir Tom in a 4-0 win over Scotland at Hampden Park in April 1958.

Sir Bobby recalled: “We were 2-0 up when Tommy Finney went past the full-back, which he always did because you could never take the ball off him, he was just sensational.

“Once he got it on his left foot and took it to the deadball line, there was always danger for the defence.

“Being the forward, you had to support him as you knew what he was going to do.

“He was going to beat the full-back, have a look up and then chip it in so, when the ball is coming down, you could smash it in.

“I was thinking ‘Tommy Finney, crossing the ball to me’. I smashed it in and I was so pleased.”

Sir Tom was laid to rest last Thursday at a civic funeral at Preston St John’s Minster, an occasion which saw thousands of people line the route to pay their respects as the cortege passed by.