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Francis Lee: Man City legend dies aged 79 after long cancer battle

Francis Lee: Man City legend dies aged 79 after long cancer battle

Manchester City have confirmed the death of club legend Francis ‘Franny’ Lee.

The Premier League champions announced in a statement on Monday afternoon that the former England striker had passed away aged 79 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Lee is an icon at City, having scored 148 goals in 330 total appearances for the club during a successful seven-year stint between 1967-74, forming part of their famous triumvirate alongside Colin Bell - who died in 2021 - and Mike Summerbee.

Last year, City commissioned a statue of the beloved trio to stand outside the Etihad Stadium, having already built them for modern heroes such as Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and David Silva.

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Lee won a glut of major silverware including a First Division title under Joe Mercer, the FA Cup, League Cup, Charity Shield and UEFA Cup Winners' Cup during his time at Maine Road.

Lee also won the First Division title with Derby County under Dave Mackay after leaving City and began his career at hometown club Bolton Wanderers, later scoring 10 goals in 27 senior international caps for England between 1968-72 and playing at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

He became a businessman after retiring in 1976 - owning a successful toilet paper company that he sold for millions - and had a difficult spell as City chairman between 1994-98, holding shares in the club before selling to Thaksin Shinawatra in 2007. He also had a spell as a racehorse trainer.

Lee - who received a CBE in 2016 for services to charity and football - is survived by his wife Gill and children Charlotte, Jonny and Nik.

City’s statement read: “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.

“A Club legend in every sense, Francis made 330 appearances for City, scoring 148 goals.

“He won one First Division title, one FA Cup, one League Cup, a European Cup Winners’ Cup and two Charity Shields during a glittering eight-year spell as a player – a legacy that ensures his position among Manchester City’s all-time greats is secure.

“He would later return to City as club Chairman in 1994, spending four years at the helm.

“Franny passed away in the early hours of this 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.

“More tributes from the club will follow in the coming days.”

Bolton said: “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.”

The FA wrote: “We’re saddened to learn of the passing of Manchester City legend, player and former chairman, Francis Lee.

“Francis was part of the legendary Cityzens side that won the FA Cup in 1969, and our condolences go out to his friends and family at this difficult time.”

England wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Francis Lee at the age of 79. Franny won 27 caps and scored ten goals for the #ThreeLions between 1968 and 1972.

“All of our thoughts are with his family and friends.”