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The tributes have flooded in for Manchester City legend Francis Lee following the news of his death on Monday, as the football world mourns his passing.

Lee passed away in the early hours of Monday morning following a long battle with lung cancer. He was 79 years old.

Affectionately known as ‘Franny’, Lee was also a highly-successful businessman and racehorse trainer. He became a multi-millionaire in his retirement thanks to the success of his toilet paper company which allowed him to take over as the majority shareholder at Man City in 1994, replacing Peter Swales as chairman.

It would be football that first brought Lee into the limelight though – including his unforgettable sending off after getting into a vicious brawl with Leeds United hardman Norman Hunter.

Described as one of City’s all-time greats, Lee won the First Division, FA Cup, League Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup during eight years with the club.

Man City legend Francis Lee passed away after a long battle with lung cancer at the age of 79

Lee pictured after scoring the goal which won City the league championship in 1968

Tributes from our readers flooded in following the news of his death on Monday

He scored 148 goals in 330 appearances for Man City and his heroics on the pitch made him a legend not only to those for City, but many rival fans too.

Following the announcement of his passing, Mail Sport readers left hundreds of tributes to the striker, lauding him for his ‘brilliant character’ and for his role in City’s title-winning side of the 1970s.

But while his hard-man displays on the pitch certainly caught the eye, his welcoming and friendly demeanour off it only enhanced his reputation.

One commenter said: ‘World class player. I remember watching him playing for City a few times in the late 60s-early 70s at Anfield, when he was at his peak. He later became a multi millionaire, selling toilet rolls and motorway equipment. 

‘When I moved to Manchester in the early 80s I often saw him in his Rolls Royce. I met him a couple of times near Maine Rd and he was always very friendly and jovial.’

Another added: ‘Great player for us at city, I was gutted when we let him go to Derby county, I’ll never forget him returning to Maine road to a standing ovation, he made us pay for it scoring a scorcher at the platt lane end which I was sitting in. 

One reader paid tribute by labelling the former striker as a ‘truly great player’

Fans from rivals clubs paid tribute to Lee for who he was on and off the pitch

‘The city fans still cheered him after scoring. He went on to win the league with Derby. Happy days. RIP Franny a true football legend CTID’

Despite revealing their allegiances to City’s rivals Man United, one reader revealed how he was ‘lucky’ to have met Lee.

They said: ‘As a United fan in the 60s and 70s I would like to pass on my condolences to everyone at City and Frannys family he was a hell of a player one of their best ever I once delivered to his factory in Bolton and was lucky to meet him he was a top man RIP.’

One West Ham fan paid Lee respect by labelling him ‘far too good a footballer’ – even if the striker did ruin many a weekend by scoring against the Hammers.

They said: ‘Never liked him. Far too good a footballer and scored way too many goals against my team. Turned far too many of my Saturday afternoons into misery. Rest in Peace Francis.’

Lee, pictured at Buckingham Palace, received a CBE for services to football and charity in 2016

Lee (in 1970) was one of City’s most famous players, scoring 148 goals in 300 appearances for the club

Another fan labelled ‘Franny’ as his hero with the City icon making a big impact on his life from early on. 

They wrote: ‘My first hero in football. Scored the first ever goal that I saw live for Man City 50 years ago. Shed a tear.’ 

Lee began his career at Bolton Wanderers before signing for City for a then record fee of of £60,000 in 1967. He was the club’s top goalscorer for five consecutive seasons from 1969-70 to 1973-74, helping City to a number of trophies.

After leaving City he won another league title with Derby in 1975 in a spell otherwise recalled for an on-pitch fight with Leeds’ Norman Hunter. Lee suffered a cut lip that needed four stitches, and on the way to the dressing room he attacked the Leeds man again, resulting in a four week suspension.

‘It’s a good job I didn’t get in the dressing room afterwards,’ he said later. ‘I might have just been coming out on parole now.’

After scoring 30 goals in two seasons for Derby, he retired in 1976 to focus on his business commitments.

Lee went on to become a businessman once he retired in 1976 and was also involved in training horses. He was later chairman of City from 1994 to 1998 before being succeeded by David Bernstein.

Lee’s entrepreneurial spirit first manifested itself as a teenager when he used an old brewery lorry to collect waste paper.

It was this market he exploited, ploughing his football earnings into setting up FH Lee Ltd, a company which specialised in waste paper recycling and haulage before expanding into toilet roll, kitchen roll, foil and cling film.

One West Ham fan paid Lee respect by labelling him ‘far too good a footballer’ – even if the striker did ruin many a weekend by scoring against the Hammers 

He eventually sold the company for £8.35million in 1984, making £6m.

He later bought stables and had some success training racehorses before buying City from the unpopular Peter Swales in 1994.

He was hailed as a returning hero by City fans, but his early ambitious promises proved way off the mark.

‘If cups were awarded for cock-ups, you would not be able to move in City’s boardroom,’ Lee later admitted after a series of poor managerial appointments – Alan Ball, Steve Coppell, Frank Clark – set the club on a downward spiral.

City were relegated to the second tier and were on their way down to the third when Lee resigned in 1998.

Despite his departure, he retained shares until selling to Thaksin Shinawatra in 2007 and continued to attend City games regularly. He was made CBE for services to sport and charity in 2016. 

Lee securing hero status among the club’s supporters by scoring the winner in a 4-3 victory over Newcastle which sealed the championship in 1968.

City said they would pay further tributes to their former player and chairman over the coming days. Left is Lee playing for City in 1971 and right he is pictured for England a year later

Lee is pictured sitting on the bonnet of a Jaguar in December 1969. A year later he would be representing England in Mexico

Lee represented his country at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Here he is pictured playing against Brazil

Lee (left) signed for Derby Country for £110,000 after leaving Man City and also won the title there

He also played a key part in the Blues’ FA Cup success in 1969 plus the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup triumphs in 1970, scoring the decisive penalty in the final of the continental competition against Gornik Zabrze of Poland.

Lee, who was part of the England side which reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 1970, won a second league title with Derby in 1975 after joining in the summer of the previous year for £110,000.

‘If you can play naturally it’s the easiest game in the world,’ Lee said in quotes reported by the Manchester Evening News in 2012.

‘I was lucky enough to play in an era when there was so much fun and laughter.’ 


Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com

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