Steve Finnan: Unsung Irishman

Steve Finnan: Unsung Irishman

Player Profile: Steve Finnan

Date of Birth: 24/3/1976
Height: 1.83 m (6 ft)
Position: Right-back
National Team: Republic of Ireland
International Caps: 53
International Goals: 2

Club Career

While best remembered for his time at Liverpool, Steve Finnan had a long-career plying his trade up and down the right touchline of football fields around England and for a brief period, Spain.

A right back throughout the course of his career, Finnan moved to England where he was part of various Wimbledon youth teams from 1990 to 1993. After a time at non-league Welling United, Finnan was signed by Birmingham in 1995 before leaving for Notts County in the Second Division on loan in 1996.

A permanent move for £300,000 followed soon after and Finnan remained at Notts until 1998, playing 80 league games and managing five goals. The following year, Notts were relegated but Finnan stayed on at the club and helped them gain promotion the next season.

Finnan’s form at Notts County brought him to the attention of Kevin Keegan, then manager of Fulham and in November 1998, Keegan paid £600,000 for the the Irishman to join the London based club.

At Fulham, despite a number of managerial changes, he remained a first team regular. A firm fan favourite, Finnan helped the club get promoted twice, with the second promotion earning the club a spot in the lucrative English Premier League for the 2001/2002 season.

Here he came up against some of the best players in the world but continued to show his worth, not only in defence but attack as well. During their first season in the English Premier League, Finnan was named in the Professional Footballer’s Association Team of the Year and was also voted Fulham’s Player of the Season.

Finnan continued to shine at Fulham but the club struggled in the English Premier League and in the 2002/2003 season they just avoided relegation. With clubs enquiring about his services, it was time for him to move on after playing 172 league games for Fulham and scoring 7 goals.

His next destination was the red half of Merseyside. Finnan joined Liverpool for £3.5 million and quickly made his debut in August 2003. His first season, however, saw him struggle with injuries, but by the 2004/2005 season he was Liverpool’s main man at right back.

His first and only goal for Liverpool came that season against West Bromwich Albion and with it, Finnan joined Jimmy Wills as the only player to score in all of the five major divisions in England.

Finnan started for Liverpool in the 3-2 loss to Chelsea in the 2005 League Cup Final. He also played in Liverpool’s incredible Champions League win over AC Milan that same year. Another medal followed at the end of the season when Liverpool won the FA Cup, beating West Ham on penalties at Wembley.

The arrival of Alvaro Arbeloa at the start of the 2006/2007 season saw Finnan’s place as first choice right back under threat. But he remained a critical first team member and again played in the Champions League final, this time in a 2-1 loss to AC Milan.

Although he signed a new two-year contract, Finnan started fewer games for Liverpool the following season with Arbeloa finally making his mark. In an effort to bring Gareth Barry to Liverpool, Finnan was offered as part of a player-exchange and cash deal. However, the transfer never eventuated.

But in August 2008, after 145 league appearances for The Reds, Finnan transferred to Espanyol in Spain. His time there was blighted by injury and he only made four league appearances that year. Both parties agreed to terminate Finnan’s contract in 2009 and he was soon back in England playing for Portsmouth on a one-year deal.

At Portsmouth, Finnan turned out in the English Premier League on 21 occasions, as well as playing in the 2010 FA Cup Final loss to Chelsea. However, he was not kept on by the club after they were relegated and he decided to call time on his career.

International Career

Steve Finnan played 53 times for the Republic of Ireland between 2000 and 2008, winning his first cap against Greece. He is fondly remembered for his assist of Jason McActeer’s goal in that famous win over the Netherlands that saw the Irish side qualify for the 2002 World Cup.

At that World Cup, Finnan and his team-mates managed to get through their pool to qualify for the next round where they were beaten by Spain on penalties.

He scored two goals for his country. The first came in a friendly against Finland in 2000 and the second seven years later in a Euro 2008 qualifier against Cyprus.

Where is Steve Finnan now?

Unlike many other former players who became coaches or TV pundits, Finnan basically cut all ties with the sport.

In fact, the hashtag #FindSteveFinnan was created when event organisers were unable to find and invite him to participate in a 10 year anniversary game to celebrate the clubs famous Champions League victory.

Finnan was eventually located and despite being unable to play in the fixture, confirmed he was safe and well and was now working in property development in London.

Did you know? Interesting facts about Steve Finnan

– Finnan spent time in Africa after his career, particularly in Gambia where he helped provide water for the poor through irrigation systems.

– Finnan made a special guest appearance in 2010 for Liverpool at the testimonial match for Jamie Carragher.

– He initially retired from Republic of Ireland duty but made a u-turn on his decision when Italian Giovanni Trappatoni was made manager.

– Finnan played 496 times in league matches for all the clubs he represented, scoring 16 goals.