LONDON - A civic funeral will be held for England football great Tom Finney, it has been announced.
Finney, who spent his entire career with home town club Preston North End, died aged 91 last Friday.
Primarily a winger, Finney - nicknamed the 'Preston Plumber' on account of working in the family business while pursuing his football career - made 433 appearances for Preston North End from 1946-1960 and won 76 England caps, scoring 30 goals.
He will be honoured at a civic funeral at Preston Minster in the north-west English town on February 27 before a private family service takes place.
"It is difficult to believe Sir Tom has died," said Preston council leader Peter Rankin.
"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." Tributes from several fellow football icons to Finney were recalled last week.
The 1966 England World Cup-winner Bobby Charlton had 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."
And the late Stanley Matthews, who is the only English footballer ever to be knighted while still playing, once said of his former England colleague: "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."