5. Frank Swift
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 a 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 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.
4. David Silva
Silva is one of the most underrated footballers in the world. The Spaniard arrived as a World Cup winner in 2010 and has lived up to that billing, helping to lift his team-mates to new heights by setting the tempo and carving open opportunities from nothing.
After his arrival, he created many chances for his teammates and had an unparalleled vision and passing sense. Silva appeared in 434 matches over the course of ten seasons with the club.
He won the FA Cup twice, five Football League Cups, and four Premier League titles during his time with Manchester giants. He was voted Manchester City player of the season for 2016-17 and Manchester City Players’ Player of the Season in 2012. Nicknamed Merlin by City fans, Silva’s enduring popularity, as well as his unquestionable on-pitch achievements, ensure his place in the top four in greatest Manchester City players ever.
3. Bert Trautmann
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 and 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”.