A dependable right-back

Steve Finnan joined Liverpool in 2003 and, despite facing stiff competition from a number of players, has firmly established his position in the team, writes Andy Hampson.

Steve Finnan has been one of the Reds' most reliable but least celebrated players in recent seasons. He rose from non-League football to reach the summit of the English game and represented his country at the World Cup.

The Limerick-born player boasts the rare distinction of having played in every division of the English game, from Nationwide Conference to Barclays English Premier League.

Finnan joined Liverpool in 2003 and, despite facing stiff competition for his position from a number of players, has firmly established himself as first-choice right-back.

Born in Ireland but raised in Chelmsford, England, Finnan began his career with non-League Welling United. He joined the professional ranks when he was signed by Birmingham City in 1995 but made only limited appearances before moving to Notts County the following year — first on loan and then permanently.

It was there that Finnan's career began to take off and after a strong 1997-98 season, he was signed by an ambitious Fulham, then in the third tier, for GBP600,000. He quickly became a favourite as he helped the club win promotion in 1999 and again, to the Premier League, two years later.

Fulham, after years in English football's lower divisions, settled well in the top flight and even earned a crack at Europe via the Intertoto Cup. He was named Fulham's Player of the Year in 2002 and earned a place in the Irish squad for the World Cup in Korea and Japan.

Bigger clubs soon became interested in him. After making more than 200 appearances for the Cottagers, Finnan signed for Liverpool — in spite of interest from Manchester United — in a GBP3.5million deal in the summer of 2003.

In his first season with the club, Liverpool finished fourth, but he missed large parts of the campaign due to injury. His start to the following season was uncertain but he eventually settled down and imposed himself, becoming a key member of the side as Liverpool remarkably won the UEFA Champions League.

The Reds had signed another right-back, Spaniard Josemi, that season but Finnan saw off the challenge and made 52 appearances. The only major disappointment was the thigh injury that forced him off at half-time in the UEFA Champions League final against AC Milan in Istanbul.

The 2005-06 season was another excellent one for Finnan, who bagged another winner's medal after a remarkable FA Cup final victory over West Ham.

Finnan has been his usual dependable self this season too. He is now a regular for Ireland.

Finnan endured some difficult times away from the game after being involved in an accident in his Range Rover in January 2005. An 81-year-old man was seriously injured in the crash and died a few weeks later. Finnan was later arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, but the case against him was eventually dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Finnan still drives a Range Rover and currently has a Sport 4.4 V8 HSE. The model has a top speed of 130mph and retails around GBP54,500.

@ PA Sport, 2007, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited.

Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.

Name: Steve Finnan Position: Defender Club: Liverpool D.O.B: 24/04/1976 Ireland Caps: 45 Ireland Goals: 1 Ireland Debut: v Greece, April 2000

Winning the UEFA Champions League is often the highlight of many players' careers but given that Liverpool were 3-0 down when Finnan left the field in the 2005 final, he played no part in the comeback that won the trophy. His most remarkable on-field moment came at the Millennium Stadium in 2006 when Liverpool twice came from behind to draw 3-3 with West Ham in the FA Cup final, a match they went on to win on penalties.

Finnan's own experience of playing in the 2005 UEFA Champions League final is not one he cares to recall fondly. He admitted he felt cheated out of the best moment of his career. "When you get to a game like that, the only thing that matters is winning," he said. "But personally after what happened to me, you can't help wonder at the time if you will ever go back to experience it properly."