Birthdate: 24 April 1976
Birthplace: Limerick, Ireland
Other clubs: Welling United (1993-95), Birmingham City (1995-96), Notts County (1996-98), Fulham (1998-2003), Espanyol (2008-09), Portsmouth (2009-10)
Bought from: Fulham
Signed for LFC: £3.5m, 01.07.2003
International debut: 26.04.2000 vs. Greece
International caps: 53/2 (28/1 at LFC) - 10.09.2008
Liverpool debut: 17.08.2003
Last appearance: 11.05.2008
Debut goal: 11.09.2004
Last goal: 11.09.2004
Contract expiry: 31.08.2008
Win ratio: 55.3% W:120 D:52 L:45
Honours: Champions League 2005; FA Cup 2006
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 7 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 145 / 1
Total LFC games/goals: 217 / 1
Player profileAfter being rejected by Wimbledon at the age of 16 Finnan tried his luck with non-league Welling United, contemplating to working as a bricklayer for his family's building firm if his football career didn't turn out. His dreams came true though when he signed a professional contract with Birmingham City in Football League One in 1995. Finnan didn't stay there long as in March 1996 he was loaned out to Notts County in the third tier of League football where he stayed until the end of the season. He signed for County in October 1996 and played 80 League games in two seasons before transferring to up-and coming Fulham managed by Kevin Keegan in November 1998. Fulham and Finnan went from strength to strength going up two league levels in three years. Finnan was voted Player of the Year at Fulham in 2002 and received most votes from his fellow professionals in the right-back position in Premiership's best XI 2001/02. He excelled in the 2002 World Cup with Ireland and it was time for him to take another step forward in his career. After 208 games and seven goals with Fulham he joined Houllier's Liverpool in the summer of 2003. Jamie Carragher, whose place was under threat following the Irishman's arrival, tried to be philosophical about it when put on the spot: "There's no point sulking about it," Carra told Sky Sports. "There's not a lot you can do, except impress the manager in training and in games. Or find out Finnan's address and send the boys round!"
Finnan struggled in his first season, but to be fair the 2003/04 season was a lowpoint for many other players and it turned out to be Houllier's last. He improved considerably after Benítez took over and proved to be a model of consistency as he played in 99 of the club's 114 Premier League matches between August 2004 and May 2007. His Spanish boss was very impressed: "Finnan is a player who will always play at a consistent level," Benítez said in 2006. "He will be seven, eight, nine or even ten out of ten every week. Some players find a good level for individual games but don't do the same every week. Finnan does it for a whole season." In 2007/08 Finnan figured in only 35 of Liverpool's 59 competitive matches as Benítez often preferred Arbeloa and Aurelio as his full-back pairing. Towards the end of January 2008 Finnan announced his retirement from international football after being 'capped' for the fiftieth time by the Republic of Ireland. Giovanni Trappatoni managed to bring him back to the Ireland set-up and he returned on 20 August 2008 against Norway, adding three games to his international total before retiring once and for all in September 2008.
The Irishman signed for La liga side Espanyol on the last day of the August transfer window in the 2008/09 season. Although he had signed a two-year contract, the Spanish club agreed to release him after just a single campaign. On 28 July 2009 the 33-year-old returned to English football with Portsmouth, incidentally replacing Glen Johnson who had moved to Liverpool. Finnan played 21 times for Portsmouth in the Premier League in 2009/10, taking his total of League appearances for five English clubs up to the 450 mark. Pompey had a disastrous League season and comfortably finished in last place, a position they would still have occupied even without a nine-point penalty for going into administration. The club's salvation came in the FA Cup when Finnan unexpectedly found himself playing in the final at Wembley four years after representing Liverpool in the final in Cardiff against West Ham. Finnan's London experience of the final was not as happy as it had been in the Welsh capital, Chelsea winning by one goal to nil. The final was Finnan's last appearance in his professional football career and after spending a few years helping with irrigation projects in Gambia he returned to London, going into property development.
Appearances per season
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
|6||West Ham United|
Goals per season
A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring
|50||23.11.2004||AS Monaco||Stade Louis II||Europe|
"I was at Wimbledon when I was 16. I was absolutely gutted to be released because, as everybody knows, at school you set your heart on something and when you are let down it is so disappointing.
"When I then went to Welling I had to think about the possibility of getting another job outside of football. If that hadn't worked out then I would probably have joined the family building firm, working as a brickie or something like that. It is a big leap to be playing in the Champions League final - the biggest game of my career - but after what I've been through to get here, it holds no fears for me."
Finnan in May 2005
"Finnan is a player who will always play at a consistent level. He will be seven, eight, nine or even 10 out of 10 every week. This is really important for the team. Some players find a good level for individual games but don't do the same every week. Finnan does it for a whole season."
Rafa on Finnan in January 2006
"I don't think we've changed anything about how we defend from last season. I think it's just down to time - we've been working with the boss for longer now and I think we now understand what he wants from us better. A year ago, we'd only been with the manager for six months and it takes time to change things at any club. We were used to playing one way before Benitez arrived and now, 18 months on, we're used to his style, his tactics and the way he wants us to play.
The zonal defending system is a good example of how things take time to perfect. I don't think many of the players had played it before because throughout most of our careers we've always gone man-to-man in the box but as soon as Rafa drilled it in to us what to do, I don't think we had many problems adjusting to it. The defence isn't perfect yet but as long as we keep working hard in training and during matches, we should improve further still."
Steve Finnan in December 2005
"I was playing a different role at left-back then [2000-2001], and Markus Babbel was superb as right-back. What I’d say is as brilliant as Markus was that season, Steve Finnan’s the best right-back I’ve played with. He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but when the PFA team of the year awards are announced, I’d be amazed if he isn’t right-back. Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to vote for your team-mates. If you could, he’d be my first pick."
Carra on Finnan in 2005-2006
"Steve has shown a massive improvement over the last eighteen months or so. I can't think of a better right back in the Premiership at the moment. The way he's been playing all season has been outstanding but he's a relatively unsung hero. You only have to look at his performances on a weekly basis to see how good he is now. I always thought Finnan was good on the ball but he's dramatically improved defensively since he's been at Liverpool.
"That defensive improvement also brings the best out of him when he's on the ball because of the confidence factor. If you go back to the start of last season when Carragher was switched to centre half, it looked like right back could be a problem position. Not any more it doesn't. Finnan has got to take all the plaudits for that because sometimes, when people aren't sure about you, it can transmit to a player and they sink. The opposite has happened to Finnan. He's grown in confidence and is now playing better and better and better."
Alan Hansen on Finnan in 2005-2006
"He is a very good player and has been great for the past couple of seasons. He's now Ireland's main right-back by some distance and he's also the best in the Premiership at the moment. He goes about his business very quietly, he doesn't grab the headlines but he does an excellent job on the right side of defence.
"When he first signed for Liverpool, you couldn't help but think, 'is he really that good?' but he is getting better and better. His consistency has been first class and you can't ask for anything more. He's proven to be a very shrewd signing. His attacking play is coming on in leaps and bounds and it is no surprise that he's had so many assists this year. He's set up a lot of important goals. On top of that, he defends really well. He knows when to pass, when to stay on his feet. I'm sure he can improve even further.
In many ways, he's like Phil Neal. He is always steady and gives you 100% every game. He's the type of player every successful side needs."
Ronnie Whelan on Steve Finnan
|Club||Season||Club rank||League apps||League goals||Total apps||Total goals|
|Birmingham City||1995-1996||England First Division||12||1||16||1|
|Notts County||1995-1996||England Second Division||17||2||20||2|
|Birmingham City||1996-1997||England First Division||3||0||3||0|
|Notts County||1996-1997||England Second Division||23||0||28||0|
|Notts County||1997-1998||England Third Division||44||5||51||6|
|Notts County||1998-1999||England Second Division||11||3||13||3|
|Fulham||1998-1999||England Second Division||22||2||26||2|
|Fulham||1999-2000||England First Division||35||2||44||3|
|Fulham||2000-2001||England First Division||45||2||48||2|
|Fulham||2001-2002||England Premier League||38||0||47||0|
|Fulham||2002-2003||England Premier League||32||0||40||0|
|Portsmouth||2009-2010||England Premier League||21||0||25||0|