Francis Lee has passed away at the age of 79 after a lengthy battle with cancer, as confirmed by the Premier League club.
Lee's legacy as a Manchester City legend was forged during his eight-year stint as a player, which began when he joined the club from his hometown team, Bolton Wanderers, in 1967 for a then-club record transfer fee of £60,000.
During his tenure with Manchester City, Lee was a prolific striker, netting 148 goals in 330 appearances for the club. His impressive contributions helped secure several honors for the team, including the First Division title, FA Cup, League Cup, and European Cup Winners' Cup. Notably, Lee was known for his clinical penalty-taking ability, even scoring 15 spot-kicks in a single season. One of his most iconic moments came when he converted a penalty to secure Manchester City's victory in the 1970 European Cup Winners' Cup final against Gornik Zabrze.
In addition to his club achievements, Francis Lee represented England with distinction, earning 27 caps and scoring 10 goals, all while playing for Manchester City. He was part of the England squad that competed in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.
Following his retirement from professional football, Lee ventured into the business world and became the owner of a toilet roll manufacturing company. His business success eventually led him to become the majority shareholder at Manchester City in 1994, where he assumed the role of chairman, succeeding Peter Swales. Lee had ambitious plans to rejuvenate the club and establish it as a prominent force in the Premier League. However, by the time he left his position in 1998, Manchester City was on the verge of relegation to the third tier of English football.
Lee pursued various interests throughout his life, including a stint as a horse trainer. In recognition of his significant contributions to football and charitable work, he received an OBE in 2016.
Manchester City released a statement mourning the loss of Francis Lee, describing him as "a club legend in every sense." The club expressed its deepest condolences to Lee's family and acknowledged his enduring legacy as one of Manchester City's all-time greats.
Francis Lee's passing marks the end of an era for Manchester City and the football community, and his memory will be cherished by fans and fellow players alike.