The legend from Manchester City’s golden era, Colin Bell, has died after a short illness, the club have confirmed tonight.
The King of the Kippax 492 appearances for the blues, spanning a 13 year career between 1966 and 1979, and scored 152 goals. The midfield genius also won 48 caps for England during a magnificent career with the blues.
City signed Bell from neighbours Bury during the 1965/66 season for a mere £47,500 and helped Joe Mercer’s second division side back to the first division. Two years later, Bell helped the blues to the league title, and was part of the famous midfield trio of Bell, Lee and Summerbee.
Bell was also part of the team that won the FA Cup in 1969, the League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup in 1970, although he missed out on a winners medal in the 1976 win over Newcastle through injury.
That injury was inflicted during the Manchester derby in November 1975, where a challenge by Martin Buchan ended with Bell severely injuring his right knee. Bell was out of the game until Boxing Day 1977 when City beat Newcastle 4-0 at Maine Road. Bell made a second half appearance much to the joy of the Maine Road crowd, who gave him a rapturous welcome back.
Bell left the blues in 1979 after returning boss Malcolm Allison convinced him it was time to leave the club. Bell signed for American side San Jose Earthquakes in 1980, but he only made five appearances for the NASL side, and retired shortly afterwards.
Speaking on the club website, chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak paid tribute to the star, whose performances would light up Maine Road. “Colin Bell will always be remembered as one of Manchester City’s greatest players and the very sad news today of his passing will affect everybody connected to our club.
“I am fortunate to be able to speak regularly to his former manager and team-mates, and it’s clear to me that Colin was a player held in the highest regard by all those who had the privilege of playing alongside him or seeing him play.
“The passage of time does little to erase the memories of his genius.”
His former teammate, Mike Summerbee spoke fondly of Bell and said current midfielder Kevin de Bruyne reminds him of the iconic midfielder. “Colin was a lovely, humble man. He was a huge star for Manchester City but you would never have known it,” said ex-forward Summerbee.
“He was quiet, unassuming and I always believe he never knew how good he actually was.
“Kevin de Bruyne reminds me a lot of Colin in the way he plays and the way he is as a person.”
Bell was awarded an MBE in 2004 for services to football, and has been inducted to both the English Football’s and Manchester City Halls of Fame. In the same year, the West Stand of the now Etihad Stadium was renamed the Colin Bell Stand in honour of one of the greatest players ever to grace the Maine Road pitch.
Rest in Peace Colin Bell. Once a blue, always a blue.