FEATURE | The undulating controversies of Steve Finnan

When you think of Steve Finnan, the words practical and functional come to mind. Comparing him to Liverpool’s right back of the day, Finnan is surely the Skoda to Trent Alexander Arnold’s Tesla.

That is not to say however, that the Irishman lacked continental flair. He did of course play over two hundred games for Liverpool, Fulham, and Portsmouth in the Premier League, representing his country 52 times in a career that encompassed a World Cup appearance in 2002 and Champions League winning success in 2005. 

Regularly the answer to pub trivia questions, Finnan played at each level of the English football league system including the Conference, The Champions League, The Uefa Cup, and the since decommissioned Intertoto Cup.

He went on to end his career in LaLiga, during an injury-plagued spell with Espanyol. He was ultimately ushered out the door by new head coach Mauricio Pochettino, who didn’t see Finnan as part of his plans going forward. 

He went on to play one more season in the Premier League with Portsmouth before retiring in 2010. 

Despite this glittering career, he was never one to crave the limelight. He famously “disappeared” momentarily when Liverpool tried to organise a Champions League 2005 Winner’s reunion, prompting the Twitter hashtag #FindSteveFinnan.

He was quickly found after some light research by an Irish journalist, who discovered the Limerick native alive and well in London, running a property development company alongside his brother in Wimbledon. 

The company, Finnan Developments, has since entered liquidation and the brothers have fallen out over mismanagement of funds, amounting to debts of around £3.5 million pounds, an amount similar to the transfer fee Liverpool paid Fulham for Finnan’s services back in 2003. 

To counteract the growing debt accrued by the liquidation, Finnan has recently put his Champions League Winners medal up for auction. He has also auctioned off his Runner’s up medal from the 2007 Final and match worn shirts from both games. 

While his public image is certainly one of reliability and steadiness, Finnan is no stranger to controversies off the pitch. 

In 2005, shortly after Champions League victory in Istanbul, Finnan appeared in a Liverpool court for his role in the death of a pensioner who died five weeks after a road traffic collision involving the Irishman’s Range Rover.

Harry Nelson, 81, was clipped by the wing mirror of Finnan’s vehicle which was travelling 58mph in a 30mph zone. Mr. Nelson died five weeks later in hospital from pneumonia caused in part due to complications from the incident. 

Finnan was alleged to have been on his phone around the time of the incident but was later cleared of all charges. While not a direct result of this incident, Finnan’s move to Spain shortly afterwards seemed like a wise decision to evade the pressures of the British media. 

Overall his move to Espanyol was inauspicious at best. He appeared only four times in LaLiga and he mutually terminated his contract with the club less than a year into a two-year contract. 

Ultimately, Finnan’s legacy will be one of consistency and trustworthiness typified by his suitably mundane Kop chant to the tune of There once was a man called Michael Finnegan

We’ve got a right back called Steve Finnan.
When he plays, we’re always winnin’.
Passes the ball, outside, in again.
We’ve got a right back called Steve Finnan.

Ciarán Brennan

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