Tributes are being paid to Cumbrian footballer Steve Finney, who has died at the age of 48.

It has been announced that Finney, whose career included spells with Carlisle United and Barrow, had passed away after a short illness.

The Hexham-born player was well known as a star player in Cumbrian junior football in the Penrith area, and went on to make his name as a striker with a number of clubs.

He started out at Preston North End before a spell with Manchester City from 1993-5.

He then joined Swindon Town and had a starring role for the Wiltshire club, helping them win the Division Two title, before returning to Cumbria with Carlisle in 1998.

Hexham Courant: Steve Finney pictured after scoring for Carlisle United at Brentford in 1999 (photo: Max Flego)Steve Finney pictured after scoring for Carlisle United at Brentford in 1999 (photo: Max Flego)

He scored six goals in 38 games for the Blues, including a run of four in eight matches in the campaign that would end with Jimmy Glass's goal keeping United in the Football League.

He spent the latter stages of that campaign with Leyton Orient and, after a spell with Barrow, which brought ten appearances and one goal in 1999, joined Chester City in 1999/2000. He also played for Altrincham.

In more recent years he was a sales specialist with Lloyd Land Rover and then with Ullswater Road Garage in Penrith, and more recently worked as a business development manager with NWF Fuels.

He was also coaching in the amateur game in the Westmorland League with Ullswater United, who said: "The club is devastated to announce the passing of Steve Finney. Steve joined the management team in October 2020 and his knowledge of the game and personality made him a vital part of what the club has achieved since.

"Steve will be sorely missed by all.

"We will fulfil our fixture this weekend as we believe that is what Steve will have wanted.

"We will be observing a minute's silence and every player will wear a black armband. Our thoughts go out to his wife Debbie and his children Harry and Molly."

Carlisle United have used their website to pay tribute to their former player, with chairman Andrew Jenkins saying: "I first met him as a young lad when he was coached by Pop Robson and Jack Watson, and Harry Gregg knew him as well.

“He was a strong lad, and he went on to play for some good clubs and at good levels. He was a really likeable person who worked hard, and he stood out because of the way he handled the ball.

“He was coaching in the Westmorland League most recently, and this is such sad news to hear.

Hexham Courant: Finney made 38 appearances for CarlisleFinney made 38 appearances for Carlisle

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

United's community sports trust manager John Halpin, who was joint manager of the Blues during Finney's playing spell at Brunton Park added: “What a player he was, with such ability.

“He wasn’t boisterous, or anything like that, but he commanded respect in the dressing room because of the way he did things.

“A clever player, he could take the ball under control with one touch and use it. He always had a picture in his mind.

Hexham Courant: Finney had a spell with Barrow later in his careerFinney had a spell with Barrow later in his career

“Everybody liked him, he was always there to give advice or an opinion, and this has come as a real shock.

“We send our condolences to his loved ones.”

Barrow said they were deeply saddened by the news and expressed their sympathies with Finneys family and friends.

Swindon also expressed their sadness at the news.

"We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of Steve Finney," they said in a statement.

"Steve joined the Reds in 1995 and scored 22 goals in over 50 outings for the club, including 16 goals in 1995/96 as Town stormed to the Second Division title.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends. RIP."

Chester FC added: "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Steve Finney, who has passed away aged 48. Steve played for the Blues from 1999 to 2000 and also represented the likes of Carlisle and Swindon. RIP Steve."