Manchester City Chairman Francis Lee acknowledges the applause of the crowd at Maine Road in Manchester, England, in 1994. File/Associated Press
Manchester City legend Francis Lee has died at the age of 79, the club has confirmed.
Lee is widely regarded as one of City’s greatest players of all time, having scored 148 goals in 330 appearances for the club in a trophy-laden eight-year spell between 1967 and 1974 that saw them claim one First Division title, one FA Cup, one League Cup, a European Cup Winners’ Cup and two Charity Shields.
He also earned 27 caps for England, scoring 10 goals, and enjoyed further trophy success after leaving City for Derby County, helping the Rams to the league title in 1975.
Man City confirmed his passing in a club statement that said: “It is with the deepest sadness and heaviest of hearts we announce the passing of former Manchester City player and chairman Francis Lee, aged 79.
“Franny passed away in the early hours of this [Monday] morning after a long battle with cancer. His wife Gill and children Charlotte, Jonny and Nik say he will be sorely missed and would like to thank everyone for their kind words.
“Everyone at Manchester City would like to send their condolences to the friends and family of Francis at this very difficult time. As a mark of respect, flags around the Etihad Stadium and City Football Academy are flying at half-mast.”
Lee had begun his career with Bolton Wanderers before Manchester City manager Joe Mercer signed him for a club-record transfer fee of £60,000 in 1967. He also made history at the Mexico 1970 where he became the first England player to receive a card at a World Cup.
Manchester City player Francis Lee. File/AP
After his playing career finished Lee ran a successful toilet roll business, becoming a millionaire, and returned to Man City as club chairman in 1994, spending four years at the helm.
In the 2016 New Year Honours list, he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to football and charity.
Lee’s first club, Bolton, posted their condolences on Twitter/X, stating: “All at Bolton Wanderers are saddened to learn of the passing of former forward, Francis Lee. The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Francis’ family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time.”
Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, who is a big Man City fan, also posted on Twitter/X; “FRANNY LEE RIP”.
Former Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and England striker Stan Collymore – who now does punditry work – also expressed his sorrow at Lee’s passing.
He wrote: “Sending sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Franny Lee. Had some lovely chats over the years on here and at City where he rightly had his status acknowledged by the club over the years. Another legend gone too soon. Rest in peace, Franny.”
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