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Francis Lee: A Crucial Figure in the History of Manchester City


 Francis Lee, who passed away at the age of 79, holds a prominent place in the history of Manchester City. He was a key part of the famous trio, alongside Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee, that formed the heart of Manchester City's legendary team during the late 1960s and early 1970s, under the management of Joe Mercer and coach Malcolm Allison.

During this era, Manchester City achieved significant success both domestically and in Europe. Lee, while also establishing himself as a prominent businessman, contributed to this success and played a crucial role in Sir Alf Ramsey's England team following their 1966 World Cup victory. Lee took part in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

Lee left Manchester City in 1974 to join Derby County, and unexpectedly, he enjoyed a successful final chapter to his playing career as they secured the league title in his first season with the club.

Despite leaving Manchester City, his affection for the club never waned, and he returned in 1994 to serve as chairman and owner for four years. He continued to support the club during its later successes under its Abu Dhabi-based owner.

Lee was known for his confidence and skill as a forward from his early days at Bolton Wanderers. He made his debut at just 16 years old and scored 106 goals in 210 games for the club. His talent attracted the attention of top-flight clubs, leading to his move to Manchester City in 1967.

His tenure at Manchester City proved to be a perfect fit, with the likes of Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee already in the team. Mercer described Lee as "the final piece of the jigsaw," and the team went on to win the First Division title in the 1967/68 season.

During his time at Manchester City, the team also won the FA Cup in 1969 and secured their first European trophy, the Cup Winners' Cup, in 1970. However, the departure of Mercer and Allison marked the end of the team's golden era.

Lee later had memorable moments at Derby County, scoring a remarkable goal against his former club, Manchester City, and getting involved in a famous on-field altercation with Norman Hunter of Leeds United.

He earned a reputation as a player who could win penalty kicks through clever tactics, which some labeled as diving. Despite the nickname "Lee Won Pen," he continued to excel on the field.

Lee's career extended beyond playing football; he achieved success in the paper business, specializing in soft toilet tissue, and became a notable horse racing trainer.

As chairman and owner of Manchester City, he strengthened the club's financial position and negotiated the move from Maine Road to the City Of Manchester Stadium (now Etihad Stadium), making the club more attractive to potential investors.

In recognition of his contributions to sport and charity, Lee received a CBE from the Duke Of Cambridge in 2016.

Throughout his life, Francis Lee maintained a strong bond with Manchester City, and his involvement with the club during his tenure as chairman and owner was a significant chapter in the club's history. His legacy continues to be celebrated as a club legend who played a vital role in shaping Manchester City's future.

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