Sir Tom Finney, one of England’s finest footballers died yesterday. Probably the best obituary I have come across is from Brian Glanville in the Guardian.
I have no way to judge him as a sportsman, so I leave that to experts such as Bill Shankly and Jimmy Armfield. What interests me is the man, particularly in this age of highly paid players.
Despite the adulation of fans, he appears to have kept his feet on the ground. One reason may be that he was a wartime tank driver in North Africa and Italy. This provides a different perspective. Additionally, he ran a plumbing business at the same time as playing, so had demands on him outside football.
He went on to be mayor of Preston, and chairman of the local health board. Most importantly, when his wife Elsie developed Alzheimer’s Disease, he was the one who cared for her.
My point is this. It is great to be blessed with sporting (or any other) talent, and to have the application to make the most of it. But the real test of a man is his character, and the word so often applied to Sir Tom today has been “gentleman” in its full traditional meaning.
RIP Sir Tom Finney.