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Bolton, Man City, Derby and England pay tribute to former player Francis Lee who has died age 79

The staff and fans of Bolton, Man City, Derby and England all pay tribute to former player Francis “Franny” Lee who has died age 79.

Francis Lee’s career stretched across 17-years; scoring more than 200 career league goals; as well as 10 goals in 27 appearances for England; he was also City chairman between 1994 and 1998.

He won two titles in the First Division titles, netted more than 200 career goals and represented the national team.

Lee began his career at Bolton, scoring 92 goals in 182 games, before moving to City for a then club-record £60k. He would help the club win the First Division title in 1968, as well an FA Cup (1969) and the European Cup Winners Cup in 1970.

He was City’s top scorer for five consecutive seasons from 1969/70 to 1973/74, winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 1970 and the 1971 Golden Boot award.

Lee would move to Derby in 1974 and help the club to win the First Division title that year, scoring 12 goals in the process – including the winner against City.

After retiring from playing in 1976, Lee went into business and famously employed the comedian Peter Kay in his toilet roll business.

He became chairman of City in 1994 but resigned four years later with the club on the brink of relegation to the third tier of English football. In 2016 Lee was appointed a CBE for his services to charity and football.


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 tweeted along with a photo: “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. #bwfc”

Derby County also said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of 1974/75 title-winner Francis Lee.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all who knew him 🖤 #DCFC”

Man Utd tweeted in reply to Man City: “Sending our sincere condolences to the loved ones of Francis and everyone connected with Manchester City at this terribly sad time 🙏”

Lee’s friend and ex-Man City teammate Joe Corrigan, said via BBC Sport: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. “Great in every way – player, person and friend. A truly sad day for football. Rest in Peace Francis.”

BBC Sport’s chief football writer, Phil McNulty: Great player and quite simply one of the most significant figures in the history of Manchester City.

As mentioned, fans and staff of Bolton, Man City, Derby and England took to pay tribute to the former player Francis Lee who has died age 79…

@antlini1973: Lost another legend, Francis Lee or as others called him Lee One Pen. Absolutely loved this guy and helped us get rid of the Swales era. Rest in peace Franny 🙏😢

@mcfc_Savio: RIP Legend. You were one of a Kind 💙 you will always be remembered by all the City fans. 💙

@RodneyMarshHair: How sad. This is heartbreaking. RIP Franny. Thank you for all of the entertainment and joy you gave us. Your memory will live on 🩵

@LeeBrom: Such sad news. A legend of the club and a giant in our history. I was named after him as he scored on the day I was born. RIP Francis and thanks for the memories and service to our club, you’ll never be forgotten 🩵

@northernbirdy: The greatest. Just the epitome of a blue. The most wonderful and charismatic of footballers, gifted and legendary by every possible metric. Rip Franny. The moon is blue tonight in your honour.

@Record_Peddler: Noooooooooooooo! That’s a real shock. #RIPFrancisLee Another childhood hero gone! Condolences to all at the club, and Frannie’s family. Bah!!!

@malcolmrandles: So many memories of Francis both playing and helping turn our club around during some difficult times 🩵#RIPFrannyLee

Really Really sad news. Great player in a great era. Later on when he was chairman he took time out to engage with my daughter when she had her leg in plaster at Maine Road. I always loved him for that.

@paf65: Such sad news, he was part of the City team when my dad first started taking me to games. RIP Franny.

@dDonnell25: A very sad day. His poster adorned my wall as a kid along with Bell and Summerbee. A City legend. RIP

@aveagudun: Such sad news RIP Franny one my heroes in my teenage years . A legend watch from above with Colin and all the other Blues 🩵🩵🩵

@NonLeagueCrowd: RIP Franny Lee – what a tough old school centre forward from the 60s and 70s – made his mark on Norman Hunter as well!! Rest well and love strength and courage to family and friends at this most difficult of times.

@Slatto1: Rip Francis. One of the greatest to ever play the game. 💙

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