Manchester City was founded in 1880 as St. Mark’s (West Gorton) and was later renamed twice in 1887 as Ardwick Association Football Club before finally settling as its present name in 1894. Their home stadium was Maine Road for a long period of time ranging from 1923 till finally moving to the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003 which now stands as the Etihad.
Contrary to popular belief among masses, Manchester City does have a rich history and has contributed enormously to the beautiful game. People questioning the club’s past should also be aware that the second highest home attendance in English football till date stands at 84,569 people who witnessed City play against Stoke City on the 3rd of March in the year 1934 for the sixth round of FA Cup. City won the match 1-0 thanks to an Eric Brook strike and later went on to win the cup defeating Portsmouth 2-1 in which City’s Fred Tilson scored twice in the second half to bring home the prestigious cup.
The first Manchester club to win a major cup, City has had its share of highs and lows in the past. Rivals Manchester United did manage to overshadow the Blues along the years and now stand as the most decorated club in England. City has since then fought all the way from the relegation zone over the years to living the dream of snatching the league title from neighbours United’s hand in the last-minute of the league. Manchester City now enjoy a respectable position on the global level and have finished ahead of United each year after Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013 in the Premier League. City is currently ranked 8th in the UEFA Club rankings (as of 2017) and is the only English club in the top 10.
Numerous players came in and out with just one motive to make Manchester City a greater force. Their hard work and determination has allowed City to grow along the years and make it into a superior club. Here’s a look at the top 10 players from the United Kingdom to ever play for Manchester City:-
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(10) Paul Power
Born on the 30th of October 1953 in Opensaw, Manchester; the local lad went on to win 444 caps for the Blues from 1975-86. Playing as a left back, Power could also play flawlessly in the midfield. He scored 36 goals for City before leaving for Everton in the summer of 1986 where he was a vital part in the Toffees’ successful campaign and went on to win the Championship (now Premier League) that season. He scored for Everton against City at Maine Road on 29th of November 1986 but refused to celebrate to showcase his love for his home club. He had won the Player of the Year awards twice (1980-81 and 1984-85) during his stay at the club. Still going strong at 63 years of age, the veteran is now involved with the Manchester City academy.
(9) Mike Doyle
Predominantly playing for the Blues throughout his career, Doyle also made appearances for Stoke City, Bolton Wanderers and Rochdale. Born on the 25th of November 1946, Doyle played in various roles across the different clubs he has starred in. Doyle started playing at right back in youth level and made his senior debut against Cardiff City in March 1965, playing as a midfielder followed by numerous appearances as a forward. However, most of his appearances later in his footballing career were in central defence.
Doyle made a mammoth 570 appearances for the club, scoring 41 times in the period of 1975-86 and was also voted the club’s hardest player in City’s official magazine before joining Alan Durban’s Stoke City for a fee of £50,000 in June 1978. He played in 46 matches for Stoke in 1978-79 and helped them to gain promotion to the First Division and was central to their defence which kept 21 clean sheets that season. He continued attending City matches after retirement but his excessive drinking problem led to his liver failure. The veteran breathe his last on 27th of June 2011.
(8) Francis Lee
Starting his illustrious career at Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City manager Joe Mercer signed him for a club record transfer fee of £60,000 in 1967 after his successful stint at the Whites. Born in West Houghton, Lancashire, England on the 29th of April 1944, Lee has won League Championship medals with both Manchester City and Derby (joined in 1974) and has scored more than 200 goals in his playing career. In 2010, he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.
Soring a total of 148 goals in 330 appearances for the Blues, Lee holds the English record for the highest number of penalties scored in a season (1971-72), a feat which earned him the title Lee Won Pen. He was City’s top scorer for five years in a row from 1969-74 and had scored the all-important penalty in the final of European Cup Winner’s Cup against Gornik Zabrze in 1970.
Voted the player of the year once, Lee held the record for the most goals in Manchester derbies (10), equalling Joe Hayes’ record which was later on broken by Wayne Rooney in 2013 when he scored his 11th. After retirement, Lee shifted to business and ran a successful toilet roll manufacturing company. In 1994, Lee became the chairman of Manchester City after which the club suffered stressful years, displaying poor football and finishing on the bottom half of the table. Lee was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to football and charity.
(7) Peter Doherty
Argued by many City fans as the greatest ever to be a part of the club, Margherafelt-born Doherty had his career experience a standstill due to the World War II. A master playmaker of his time, Doherty notched up impressive performances for a host of different clubs, most notably for Manchester City. He started his career at Glentoran in the Irish League in 1931. Joining Manchester City on 19th of February in 1936 for a then-club record of £10,000, Doherty could not make an immediate impact in his first match for City against Preston North End but soon found his rhythm and became a free-scoring forward at the club. He made 130 appearances for Manchester City scoring 79 goals before leaving Maine Road to join Derby County. He led his country to the 1958 World Cup quarter-finals and won a league championship medal with Manchester City in 1937 and a cup winner’s medal with Derby in the 1946 FA Cup Final. Peter Doherty was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
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(6) Mike Summerbee
A pivotal part in the successful Manchester City side of the late 1960s and 70s, Summerbee made his league debut for Swindon Town in 1959 when he was just 16 years old. Playing as a winger, he made about 200 appearances for the Robins and scored 38 goals before City manager Joe Mercer signed him for a fee of £35,000 in 1965.
In his first Manchester City season, Summerbee started every single match and was the only City player to do so that season. Nicknamed the “Buzzer”, Summerbee was an important figure for team which successfully clinched four trophies in three seasons from 1968-70. Also known for his hot temperament on the pitch, his teammate Francis Lee described this trait of his as “retaliating first”. Summerbee left Maine Road in June 1975 to join Burnley for a £25,000 fee, after making 452 appearances for City and scoring 68 times. Summerbee ended his playing career at Stockport County, acting as a player-manager for the Hatters in the 1978–79 season. Summerbee is now the Club Ambassador for Manchester City.
(5) Joe Corrigan
Widely considered as one of the best goalkeepers to don the Blue shirt, Joe made a club record of 604 appearances for the club and was voted the Player of the Year on three occasions. Manchester-born Corrigan started his youth career at City in 1966 before breaking into the senior team in the next year itself. He played regularly for the club in the 1976 League Cup winning season. Eye catching performances at club level earned him a national call-up and he his debut for England came on 28th of May 1976 against Italy and was also a part of the 1982 FIFA World Cup squad.
Corrigan played in the 1981 FA Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur and was presented the man-of-the-match despite City losing the match. After he left City in 1983 for American club Seattle Sounders in a £30,000 deal, Corrigan returned back to England after 6 months to join Brighton. He had brief loan spells at Norwich City and Stoke City before retiring in 1984.
(4) Tommy Johnson
Thomas Clark Fisher “Tommy” Johnson was born on 19th of August 1900 and still remains one of the best players City has witnessed till date. He played 354 matches for the Blues, scoring 166 goals and is 3rd in the all-time City goal-scorer list. Predominantly a centre forward and known for his powerful left foot, he was given a professional contract at Manchester City in 1919 upon the recommendation of City defender Eli Fletcher who had threatened to leave the club if Johnson wasn’t signed. He went on to stay 11 years at the club. He made his debut scoring a goal in a war league match against Blackburn Rovers on the 22nd of February 1919, and scored a hat-trick against Port Vale a fortnight later. He made his league debut against Middlesbrough on 18th of February 1920 and scored both the goals in a 2–0 win, playing in the position previously occupied by Tommy Browell.
Johnson left City for Everton in 1930 and also had brief stays at Liverpool and Darwen. Johnson died in the Monsall hospital in Manchester in 1973 at the age of 72 and also has a street near Maine Road named after him (Tommy Johnson Walk).
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(3) Alan Oakes
Holder of the record for the most appearances in City colours, Winsford-born Oakes starred in 676 of the Blue’s matches and was also voted the player-of-the-year once in his 17-year old stay at the club. He is a cousin of his then teammate Glyn Pardoe, an uncle of defender Chris Blackburn, and the father of former goalkeeper Michael Oakes. Joining City at the youth level in 1958 at the raw age of 15, the charismatic midfielder made his senior team debut a year later in the 1-1 draw against Chelsea under City manager Les McDowall. He had won quite a few silverwares with the club, winning the European Cup Winners’ Cup winners medal in 1970, a First Division and Second Division championship medal in 1967–68 and 1965–66 respectively, an FA Cup winners medal in 1969, two League Cup winners medals in 1970 and 1976, and FA Charity Shield winners medals in 1968 and 1972.
Playing alongside other City greats such as Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee, Oakes was a regular in the first team and also went on to play in all matches except one in their title winning season in 1967-68, with only right-back Tony Book getting to play all of the matches. Oakes left City in 1976 to join Chester City in a £15,000 deal. He made 211 appearances for the Seals before moving to Northwich Victoria and Port Vale. Oakes had also served as a player-manager at Chester City and had a successful time there, winning the FA Cup twice and the Debenhams Cup in 1977.
(2) Eric Brook
Currently the highest goal-scorer for the Blues, strong-built Brook had ‘one of the fiercest shots in pre-war football’ and was a clinical spot kick taker for the club. Brook is widely regarded as one of City’s and England’s greatest ever players. Yorkshire-born Brook started playing amateur football for Wath Athletic and made his first senior appearance for Barnsley in 1925. Scoring 18 goals in 78 matches for the Reds, he quickly gained interest from First Division teams. Brook and his teammate Fred Tilson was transferred to City for a combined fee of £6,000 in 1928 and the pair made their debut against Grimsby Town on 17th of March. They joined a strong attacking line at the club that included Tommy Johnson, Billy Austin and Frank Roberts in its ranks and also boasted England international centre half Sam Cowan and the Scotland captain Jimmy McMullan at the back.
Scoring his first goal for City in a 5–3 win over Clapton Orient, Brook went on to make 493 appearances for the club and find the back of the net for a record 177 times. In 1977, the Manchester City Council named eleven streets in a new estate in Moss Side after famous City players which included Brook, Johnson and others. He retired at the club in 1939 after redefining the club’s stature in England and was inducted into Manchester City FC hall of fame along with many other notable names. Brook died at home in Wythenshawe in March 1965.
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(1) Colin Bell
Widely regarded as City’s best ever, Colin Bell was born in Hesleden, County Durham on the 26th of February in 1946. Bell made 501 appearances for the Blues, scoring 153 times and was famously nicknamed the “The King of the Kippax” (after Manchester City’s Kippax Street terraced stand renowned for its singing) and Nijinsky after the famous racehorse (due to his renowned stamina). Beginning his successful career by captaining Bury at a young age in 1963, he moved to Manchester in 1966 and helped them gain promotion to the First Division that year itself. City’s then Assistant Manager Malcolm Allison misled other clubs wanting to sign Bell by claiming the player “can’t head it, can’t pass it, he’s hopeless” and this stratagem by Allison succeeded as Bell eventually signed for City.
1968 proved to be a substantial year for Bell as he led City to their second League Championship title and also earned his first England call-up against Sweden and was a key figure in the 3-1 victory. Bell scored the only goal in England’s win over The Netherlands in 1969 and also stuck against Brazil which elevated his status in the national team. In 1970, Bell helped City win two trophies, the League Cup and the prestigious European Cup Winners’ Cup and also earned a place in the England squad for the FIFA World Cup in Mexico. Bell left City in 1979 to join San Jose Earthquakes after a gruesome injury in his right knee in a Manchester Derby in 1975 affected him for the years to come.
Alan Mullery, one of Bell’s former England team mates said that Bell would ‘still be a star in today’s football’ and ‘would fit into any team’. Former Liverpool man Kevin Keegan had once stated that Bell ‘had it all’. England legend Tom Finney stated that ‘Colin Bell was as good as anything I’ve ever seen’. Currently 71 years old, Bell has a stand at the Etihad named after him (The Colin Bell Stand).
Joe Hayes: Famously known for opening the scoring in the 1956 FA Cup final against Birmingham City, Kearsley-born forward Hayes made 364 appearances for the club, scoring 152 goals.
Tommy Booth: The Middleton lad went on to play 491 times for City and was a regular in the back-line of the team which won FA Cup, European Cup Winners’ Cup and two League Cup winners’ medals.
Shaun Wright-Phillips: The little playmaker had two stints at City, making a total of 275 appearances and scoring 47 goals. He was named the player-of-the-year once in his nine-year stay at the club.
Joe Hart: With two Premier League titles under his belt, the England international has made 266 appearances for the Blues and is a fan-favorite. He was awarded the Premier League Golden Glove on 4 occasions.