Manchester City are one of the biggest clubs in England as well as Europe. They have a team full of superstars that can take on any team in the world. Many great players have played for the club in its history, even when they didn’t have the resources which they have now. In this article, let us have a look at some of the greatest Manchester City players ever.
Considering the impact on the club, success, consistency, loyalty and longevity, here are the 10 Greatest Manchester City Players Ever.
10. Frank Swift [1933-1949]
Swift was a one-club man who spent his entire professional career between the posts for Manchester City, apart from wartime guest appearances elsewhere. In his debut season, Swift was a key member of the team that made it all the way to the 1934 FA Cup final. City had lost the previous year’s final to Everton, and the relatively inexperienced Swift was quite nervous before the final against Portsmouth.
Septimus Rutherford put Pompey ahead on 27 minutes with a goal for which the young Swift blamed himself. But at half-time, he was consoled by City’s centre-forward Fred Tilson, who promised the young keeper he’d score two. Tilson kept his promise and scored two goals. When the final whistle sounded, Swift was so overcome by the release of tension that he fainted beneath his crossbar and had to be revived to collect his winners’ medal from George V.
Apart from the FA Cup he also won the First and Second Division titles with City. Tragically Swift’s life was cut prematurely short by the Munich Air Disaster, whilst covering the game as a journalist for News of the World.
9. Mike Summerbee [1965-1975]
Signed by Joe Mercer, Summerbee is one-third of the glorious City triumvirate that also included Colin Bell and Francis Lee. In his first season at the club, he started every single match, the only Manchester City player to do so that season.
Playing on the right wing, he was one of the most influential players in the side which won 4 trophies in 3 seasons; including the First Division, FA Cup and League Cup between 1968 and 1970. City fans voted him Player of the Year in 1972 and 73 – and in total he made 452 appearances for the club, scoring 68 goals before leaving for Burnley in a £25,000 deal in 1975.
8. Vincent Kompany [2008-2019]
Vincent Kompany is one of the first names that spring to our mind when we talk about ‘greatest Manchester City players ever’. An absolute Manchester City hero, Kompany captained the team to four Premier League titles, and he has taken great pride in doing so. Since his arrival, he was the backbone of the Manchester City defence and his injuries resulted in poor defensive problems for the club.
Kompany was included in the Premier League Team of the Year for two years in a row in 2011 and 2012 as well as being included in the 2014 team, and won the Premier League Player of the Season in 2012. He left the club for Anderlecht in 2019, after spending more than a decade with the blue side of Manchester. He will go down as one of the Premier League’s best defenders, having been signed for just £6m in 2008.
7. Francis Lee [1967-1974]
Lee was an integral part of City’s most successful team of the late ’60s. A then club-record £60,000 signing from Bolton Wanderers in 1967, Lee certainly proved value for money, even if he came with what was a hefty price tag at the time. A supreme goal-scorer, the converted winger was the spearhead in a golden era for City. His strength and tenacity were admired by fans, and he had an uncanny knack of “winning” penalties and converting them.
One of the most prolific goal-scorers in the history of the club, he scored 148 goals in 330 appearances and was City’s leading marksman on four occasions.
In his first season, he helped City to the title in May 1968. He scored 16 goals that term – including the decisive goal in the 4-3 win over Newcastle on the final day of the season. He would also go on to win the FA Cup a year later and the League Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970 in a period laden with City silverware. Lee left Manchester City in 1974, joining Derby County.
6. Yaya Toure [2010-2018]
Yaya Toure played an instrumental role in Manchester City’s success post-takeover by the Arab owners. He spent the majority of his career as a box-to-box midfielder for club and country, where he was regarded as one of the world’s best players in his position.
Yaya Toure scored some crucial goals for Manchester City, including the goal to take City to the 2011 FA Cup final against rivals United in the semi-finals. He then scored the winner in the final against Stoke City, securing City’s first trophy since 1976. He was vital in winning two Premier League titles and 2 League Cups, most notably in the penultimate match of the 2011–12 season against Newcastle United where Touré scored two late goals to win the match and put Manchester City at the top of the league.
Toure was included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year for 2011–12 and 2013–14. He was also voted African Footballer of the Year for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
5. Kevin De Bruyne [2015-Present]
The Belgian midfielder established himself as one of the world’s top talents after joining Manchester City from German club Wolfsburg in 2015. He is capable of firing a 30-yard bullet into the back of the net, as well as a graceful, raking pass out to the flank. He knows every trick in the book when it comes to playmaking.
De Bruyne has won the League 5 times, the FA Cup twice, a Champions League title and the League Cup 5 times. He helped the team to complete the treble in 2022-23 season and was the highest assist provider in all three competitions.
He has won the Premier League Player of the Season twice as well as won the Manchester City Player of the Season on four occasions. If he decides to spend a few more years with the club, he could very well rise to the top of this list.
4. Bert Trautmann [1949-1964]
Bert Trautmann will be forever remembered by City supporters for bravely playing for 17 minutes during the 1956 FA Cup Final victory over Birmingham City with a broken neck. He was able to collect his winner’s medal. He was also the first German to play in an FA Cup final at Wembley.
Trautmann, a former prisoner of war, helped heal relations between England and Germany in the wake of the Second World War and was voted England’s Player of the Year in 1956.
Trautman served with the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, was captured by British forces towards the end of the conflict and transferred to a prisoner-of-war camp in Lancashire. City’s decision to sign an ex-German paratrooper in 1949 sparked mass protests but over time Trautman’s performances won the City fans over. He firmly established himself in City folklore over the course of time.
The legendary Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin, himself considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, believed that Trautmann and himself were the “only … two world-class goalkeepers”.
3. David Silva [2010-2020]
David Silva arrived in Manchester as a World Cup winner in 2010 and lived up to that billing, helping to lift his teammates to new heights by setting the tempo and carving open opportunities from nothing.
Blessed with an unparallel vision and passing sense, he created many chances for his teammates. Silva spent ten years with the club, appearing in 436 matches. He won four Premier League titles, two FA Cups, five League Cups and three Community Shield titles during his time at City.
He was voted Manchester City Player of the Season for 2016-17. Nicknamed Merlin by City fans, Silva’s enduring popularity, as well as his unquestionable on-pitch achievements, ensure his place in the top three greatest Manchester City players ever.
2. Colin Bell [1966-1979]
Colin Bell is regarded as one of the best players – if not the best player – to have donned the Manchester City shirt. Dubbed ‘The King’, Colin Bell has a stand at the Etihad Stadium named after him. Bell joined the club from Bury in 1966 after being watched by Assistant Manager Malcolm Allison on a number of occasions.
He helped the club to promote in his first season and guided them to win the League Championship in 1968. Bell was the heart of the title-winning team and was voted the 1967/68 Manchester City Player of the Year. With Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee, Bell formed the so-called ‘Holy Trinity’, who would inspire the Blues to a FA Cup, 2 Charity Shields, 2 League Cups and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
His career was unfortunately cut short following an injury he suffered in his right knee against Manchester United in a challenge with Martin Buchan. He was only 29 years old at the time of the injury and attempted a return two years later in 1977 but called time on his career in 1979. He played 501 times for City in all competitions and scored 153 goals, an absolute legend.
1. Sergio Aguero [2011-2021]
It is hardly surprising that the No.1 spot in our list of ‘greatest Manchester City players ever’ goes to Sergio Aguero. Manchester City’s record goalscorer with 260 goals, Aguero arrived in the summer of 2011 from Atletico Madrid. He scored two goals on his debut and secured the club’s first title in 44 years with the final kick of that season.
Aguero spent ten seasons with the club and scored 260 goals in 390 matches. He terrorized the other big teams in the league, scoring 54 goals in just 75 games against the “Big Six” teams.
He won five Premier League titles, a FA Cup, and six League Cups titles during his time with the club. The Argentine is regarded as one of the greatest foreigners English football has ever seen.