Manchester City have unveiled a statue of club greats Mike Summerbee, Colin Bell and Francis Lee outside the Etihad Stadium.

The permanent bronze tribute on the west side of the ground captures the three players in dynamic poses characteristic of their styles of play.

Summerbee, Bell and Lee were the central figures in the City side that won the First Division title in 1968, the FA Cup the following year and both the European Cup Winners’ Cup and League Cup in 1970.

The names of all 29 players who featured during this trophy-winning era are also inscribed on a bronze plate on the statue’s plinth.

It is the latest in a series of tributes the club have made to honour past players, including the commissioning of statues of Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero, in recent years.

Summerbee, 80, who scored 67 goals in 449 appearances for City and remains an ambassador for the club, said: “This is a truly special moment for me and my family. I joined Manchester City in 1965 and it is the best decision I could have possibly made.

“Fifty years later I am still here, still treated with such respect. I feel incredibly lucky to be recognised in this way, amongst friends whose contribution to our history this club never forgets, despite the amazing success we have enjoyed in recent years.

“It is an honour to be part of this extraordinary club.”

Lee, who scored 148 goals in 330 appearances for City and later had a spell as chairman at Maine Road, died in October. Bell, who died in 2021, scored 153 goals in 498 City games.

The statue has been sculpted by the British artist David Williams-Ellis and is 4.5 metres high and four metres wide.

City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: “This statue honours three players who are unquestionably City legends and have deservedly earned a special place in the history of the club and hearts of the whole City family.”

Francis Lee was described as “the life and soul of the game” as football paid its last respects to the former Manchester City and England forward.

The funeral service for Lee, who died on October 2 at the age of 79 following a battle with cancer, was held at Manchester Cathedral on Thursday morning.

Figures from across the sport were in attendance as well as family, friends, associates from other aspects of his varied life and fans.

Lee scored 148 goals in 330 appearances for City between 1967 and 1974, winning the First Division title, the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Along with Mike Summerbee and Colin Bell, he formed part of a great triumvirate for which the club became renowned.

He also played for hometown side Bolton, earned 27 England caps and ended his career with Derby, where he won another league title in 1975.

Additionally he ran a highly successful toilet roll business and went on to become a prominent racehorse trainer before a spell as City chairman from 1994-98.

In 1974 he scored a stunning goal for Derby against former club City, prompting one of English football’s most memorable lines of commentary from broadcaster Barry Davies.

“Interesting…very interesting!” said Davies as Lee picked up possession and took aim before finding the net and running off to celebrate. “Look at his face, just look at his face!”

Davies was among the mourners to pay tribute on a drizzly morning in Manchester.

“He was a wonderful player, the life and soul of the game,” said Davies. “He was interesting, very interesting!

“He was a character and brought character to the game. When I said, ‘Look at his face’, I had the feeling that he had an expression like a schoolboy who had just scored his first goal for his school team. It was wonderful.”

Others in attendance included Summerbee and Tony Book, the captain of the 1968 title-winning team.

Former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder Graeme Souness was also present, as were former City players Joe Royle, Asa Hartford, Peter Barnes, Alex Williams and Micah Richards.

Tributes were paid at the service that reflected his life at City, his time in the game and in business, and from his family. The address was given by the Ven David Sharples, Archdeacon of Rochdale.

Book, 89, said: “He was a top man. They don’t come any better. He was great in the dressing room, marvellous to be around. It’s very sad.”

Williams, who played in goal for City in the 1980s, spent 33 years in the club’s community department before retiring earlier this year.

He said: “Francis Lee was brilliant. He had Manchester City at heart. He came to us from Bolton and took like a duck to water.

“A brilliant man – he loved the club and supported the club when we needed him.

“We’ve got our neighbours across the city who have their trios and ours was brilliant too – Lee, Bell and Summerbee. They’ll never be forgotten at Manchester City.”

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