Top 10 Manchester City Players of All Time: An American's List

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IIAugust 23, 2012

The King during his reign.
The King during his reign.Getty Images/Getty Images

If you are anything like the typical American Manchester City fan these days, your knowledge of club lore can charitably be called "superficial."

To be fair, you did not grow up in Manchester or even anywhere outside of the states.  Probably you are, to put it gently, arriving to the Barclays Premier League party a tad bit late.

This article is intended to provide you with enough knowledge of Manchester City Football Club's all-time greats to give you proper ammunition against an allegation of being a bandwagon-jumper.

Let's face it: That time you called David Silva the greatest City player ever was pretty ill-informed.  You can do better.  Here we go.


Yaya Toure is a wonderful player, but before you anoint him as the greatest midfielder in MCFC history, you had better read up on Colin Bell.  When the Club's own website calls Bell "the best player City have ever had," well, that is about as definitive as it gets.  No wonder: Per the site, he won the league, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup in his 14 years at City. 

Further solidifying his place as the greatest Blue ever was his unfortunate injury at the hands of, naturally, a Manchester United defender (Martin Buchan) in 1975. Buchan's sinister challenge left Bell with an effectively wrecked right knee at the age of 29 and ended his time as a dominant force. 

Still, "King Colin" has a stand named after him at the Etihad.  That is respect.




Trautmann has lived an amazing life.  He was a paratrooper in the Luftwaffe and was awarded an Iron Cross.  He was captured by British forces and held as a prisoner of war. 

And then, in 1949, Trautmann was signed to MCFC in the face of strong local protest by Manchester's significant Jewish community.  Only intervention by communal Rabbi Alexander Altmann made Trautmann's ultimate acceptance by the club feasible. 

Trautmann went on to play 15 seasons for City and made over 500 appearances.  He is best known, though, for anchoring the club's 1956 FA Cup triumph over Birmingham, playing the last sixteen minutes with a broken neck. 

Think about that the next time that Joe Hart complains about his achy back.




Brook is City's all-time leading scorer, a mark he put the finishing touches on when his career ended in 1939.  Brook scored 178 goals, which does not sound beyond catching until you remember that in the modern game, rare is the player who stays at any one club long enough to amass a significant career total. 

As an example, Wayne Rooney has 129 Premier League goals for United, and he has been at it since September of 2004.  Carlos Tevez has 49 Premier League goals for City. 

Do you think Tevez will reach Booth's total?  Yeah, that seems unlikely.




Oakes holds the record for most appearances in City blue; feel free to Google what the number is, you will come up with a lot of different numbers...but they are all well north of 500. 

Assuming 561 is accurate, simple arithmetic tells you that a player who appears in all 38 games of a BPL season will need to do so for nearly 15 seasons to reach that mark. 

To play in 561 games at the highest does not happen as a courtesy.  Oakes' longevity and his talent, established him as a legendary Blue.




If anything, Bert Trautmann's legacy is burnished by the fact that he managed to have the career he had following the legendary play of Swift, who was City's primary keeper for the fifteen seasons before Trautmann came to the Club in 1949. 

Perhaps best known for collapsing in joy/relief/exhaustion at the conclusion of City's 2-1 win over Portsmouth in the 1934 FA Cup final, Swift went on to a promising journalistic career. 

Sadly, his life was cut short by a plane crash that killed 23 people, including eight United players.




It took Eric Brook nearly 500 appearances to score his club record for goals.  Doherty only scored 82 goals for the Blues, but he did that in a mere 134 appearances

World War II interrupted and ultimately ended Doherty's City career, though he returned to the pitch with clubs like Derby County and Doncaster Rovers after the war ended. 

It should go without saying that a player who scored better than a goal every two games is an all-timer, even if the time spent in Manchester blue was short.




As with Bell, a visit to the club's website tells you all you need to know about Doyle. (Though sadly, it is in his obituary.)   He had over 550 appearances for City from 1962-1978; again like Bell, Doyle won the league, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup during his time at MCFC. 

For most City fans, though, all that is well and good: His broadcasted enmity for United was the extra epaulet on his shoulder.




Lee's claim to fame is a bit of an outlier: He scored 35 goals in 1971-1972, and 15 of them came from the penalty spot.  This led to some derisive allegations of diving. 

In football?  That's odd.

In any event, Lee scored 112 goals in 248 league appearances for City—quite close to a goal every other game.   And the call of "Bell, Lee, Summerbee,"—well, that's not bad at all. 




He was another stalwart on the glorious City teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s and another player fortunate enough to win the league, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup during his time at MCFC.  He appeared nearly 450 times for the Club.

By far, though, the coolest thing that Summerbee brought to the pitch was "retaliating first."




Granted, this is a projection.  But it seemed somehow ridiculous to talk about the greatest players in the club's history without choosing someone from the side that ripped the title from Sir Alex's Cabernet-stained mitts and ended a 44-year title drought. 

So who would you rather?  Callous mercenaries like Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko?  Relative new boys like Sergio Aguero?  No, it has to be the steady hand at the till.  It has to be Kompany.

And there you have it.  Like most lists, this one can (and probably will) be debated.

But at the very least, the next time the topic turns to City's greatest players, you will not make a fool of yourself going on and on about Samir Nasri.


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