Former Man City great Colin Bell dies aged 74

Colin Bell, widely regarded as one of the Manchester City’s finest players, has died aged 74 following a short illness.

In this April 27, 2005 file photo, Colin Bell poses for media with his MBE in London. - AP

Former England and Manchester City midfielder Colin Bell, widely regarded as one of the club’s finest players, has died aged 74 following a short illness, the Premier League side said on Tuesday.

A classy but also tireless midfield player, Bell was part of City’s 1967-68 First Division title-winning team and scored 152 goals in 492 games for the Manchester club between 1966 and 1979. He also won the FA Cup, League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup at City during the club’s most successful period until their recent title successes.

A huge favourite with City fans, Bell was nicknamed Nijinsky after the thoroughbred race horse in a tribute to his stamina.

'Phenomenal footballer'

“He was such a great, great player and he was a phenomenal athlete alongside being a phenomenal footballer,” said former City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan.

“He could have been an Olympic athlete had he put his mind to it.”

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Bell was capped 48 times by England and featured in the 1970 World Cup. He would have made more international appearances but suffered a serious knee injury in 1975, aged 29.

A modest man, Bell kept a relatively low profile after his playing career ended.

“Colin was a lovely, humble man. He was a huge star for Manchester City but you would never have known it,” said his former City team-mate Mike Summerbee.

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“When I think about him, I simply think of quality - just sheer quality. We never singled out individuals in the team we played in, but there’s no doubt in my mind that he was the greatest,” he added.

Bell, who hailed from the North East of England, broke into the game with Bury before signing for City and after his knee injury he tried to rebuild his career in the United States but played just five games in the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the San Jose Earthquakes.

'One of the greatest'

The West Stand at City’s Etihad Stadium is named after Bell, who later worked with the club’s youth teams and also served as a club ambassador.

“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,” said City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak in a statement.

“Colin was incredibly humble and a modest and understated man with an obvious inner strength of character. Our Club has lost a true great.”

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