Manchester City have a storied history dating back to 1880 and have seen a long list of legends shine in sky blue along the way. The Etihad Stadium club’s dominant years have also made a host of greats.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s takeover in 2008 has made a number of legends as title upon title bolster Manchester City’s trophy history. So, Manchester City News has looked at the club’s top 10 legends. From 93:20 hero Sergio Aguero to the Citizens’ renowned captain Vincent Kompany.
|Managers:||Roberto Mancini (2010-13), Manuel Pellegrini (2013-16), Pep Guardiola (2016-20)|
|Years at Manchester City:||2010-2020|
Football fans around the world could revel in the magician that is Manchester City legend David Silva during his decade with Manchester City. The Spaniard arrived at Etihad Stadium from Valencia on the back of helping Spain win the World Cup in 2010. But the £24m that Roberto Mancini paid out would be an absolute steal.
Silva played with supreme grace to conduct the action in sky blue and he immediately adapted to the Premier League. The game always looked easy for the midfielder as he carved defences apart with his pinpoint passes. Rarely would Silva waste possession and it always looked as if he had acres of space.
Manchester City fans quickly took Silva into their hearts and would also call the indisputable Citizens legend El Mago. His wizardry with the ball knew no limits and it would yield 140 assists and 77 goals over 436 appearances. The 125-cap Roja hero would also help Spain win the Euros in 2008 and 2012.
The Covid-19 pandemic denied Silva the send-off befitting a Manchester City legend when he moved to Real Sociedad in 2020. But the maestro departed having more than written his name on the pages of Manchester City’s history. He also left having secured four Premier League and two FA Cup titles.
|Managers:||Roberto Mancini (2011-13), Manuel Pellegrini (2013-16), Pep Guardiola (2016-21)|
|Years at Manchester City:||2011-2021|
Aguero cemented his place among the top 10 Manchester City legends during a storied decade with the Citizens. The Argentine moved to the Etihad from Atletico Madrid in July 2011 for £38m. But the following 10 years would see the striker prove himself to be one of the finest in the Premier League.
Few centre-forwards could compare to Aguero, who was the ultimate weapon and one of the best of a generation. The striker was small but boasted immense technical skill and showed his worth at the first chance. Off their bench two weeks after joining, he hit home from 30 yards out against Swansea City.
It was the start of truly great things to come as Aguero ended his debut with two goals and an assist. The Argentine proved with each goal after goal that any doubts over his adaptation from La Liga were naïve. He even ended his decade at Etihad Stadium as Manchester City’s record goalscorer with 260.
No Manchester City legend had ever hit the net for more than 180 goals before Aguero smashed the mark. He would also record the all-important goal on 93:20 to beat Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011/12 season to see the Citizens pip Manchester United for a first Premier League title.
His stoppage-time strike sent Etihad Stadium into pandemonium in a moment like no other. Aguero would also go on to win a further four Premier League titles, an FA Cup and six EFL Cups at the club. While he ended the 2014/15 Premier League campaign as its top scorer with 26 goals in his account.
|Managers:||Mark Hughes (2008-09), Roberto Mancini (2009-13), Manuel Pellegrini (2013-16), Pep Guardiola (2016-19)|
|Years at Manchester City:||2008-2019|
When Mark Hughes paid Hamburg a mere £6m for Manchester City to sign Kompany in August 2008, few could have expected what he would deliver over the following 11 years. The Citizens would confirm the Belgian, as well as Silva and later Aguero as Manchester City legends, with a statue outside Etihad Stadium in 2021.
Kompany spent eight of his successful seasons with Manchester City as their captain and led the club to 10 major trophies. He lifted the Citizens’ first top-flight title in 44 years with their 2011/12 Premier League title. It was one of the defender’s four league titles, alongside two FA Cups and four EFL Cups.
Few centre-halves have made a greater impact on Manchester City’s history than Kompany, who was always an exemplary leader. Injuries would ultimately thwart periods of the Belgian’s career at Etihad Stadium. But he was always back at the first chance and always led the ship even if he could not play.
The term ‘Captain Fantastic’ was made for legends of the game like Manchester City’s iconic skipper, Kompany. He would also further cement his legacy as one of the all-time Premier League greats with a 25-yard screamer against Leicester in the penultimate game of City’s 2018/19 title-winning season.
Kevin De Bruyne
|Appearances:||More than 340|
|Goals:||More than 90|
|Managers:||Manuel Pellegrini (2015-16), Pep Guardiola (2016-present)|
|Years at Manchester City:||2015-present|
Chelsea saw Kevin De Bruyne fail to make it in west London for two years before selling the Belgian to VfL Wolfsburg in January 2014. Yet the midfielder only needed 18 months with Die Wolfe to warrant another shot in England. But it would cost Manchester City a then-club record £55m in August 2015.
Manuel Pellegrini smashed the Citizens’ former record spend to sign De Bruyne. But in doing so, the Chilean also signed a future Manchester City legend. The midfielder has proven himself to be one of the greatest creators that the Premier League has witnessed as one of the best in his role in Europe.
De Bruyne would emerge as the soul of the Citizens’ squad, driving them forward with his incredible intelligence. The playmaker can read the game like few others and is incredibly versatile. Whether he has appeared from the wings or through the centre, De Bruyne is often the one pulling City’s strings.
It is not only his exceptional passing that beats opponents, either, as De Bruyne is also outstanding in one-vs-one scenarios. He can find a way through defences whether they try to press or stand off the playmaker. It is why he will be remembered as one of the greatest players in the Premier League era.
|Managers:||Roberto Mancini (2010-13), Manuel Pellegrini (2013-16), Pep Guardiola (2016-2018)|
|Years at Manchester City:||2010-2018|
After Barcelona made Yaya Toure surplus to requirements under Pep Guardiola in July 2010, Mancini wasted no time in signing the Ivory Coast icon for Manchester City in a £24m transfer. Toure had just played at that summer’s World Cup and helped the Catalan club win the Champions League in 2009.
Toure spent the next eight seasons establishing himself as a midfield powerhouse and cemented himself among the long list of Manchester City legends. He dominated the engine room to add three English top-flight titles to his two in Spain. He also won two FA Cups and three EFL Cups to add to his sole Copa del Rey title.
The four-time African Footballer of the Year also had more than a knack for important goals. While it was also his crucial efforts to beat Manchester United in the semi-final and Stoke City in the final that won the Citizens the 2011 FA Cup. Manchester City won the ties 1-0 for their first trophy in 35 years.
Toure continually delivered with supreme finesse, even scoring 20 and assisting nine goals to win the 2013/14 Premier League title. While the 97-cap Cote d’Ivoire legend also had excellent technique to score an array of free-kicks. It would see Toure be the only African on the 2014 Ballon d’Or shortlist.
|Managers:||Joe Mercer (1966-71), Malcolm Allison (1971-73), Johnny Hart (1973), Tony Book (1973), Ron Saunders (1973-74), Tony Book (1974-79)|
|Years at Manchester City:||1966-1979|
Manchester City paid Bury £47.5k to sign not just a would-be club legend but one of their greatest-ever players in Colin Bell in March 1966. The midfielder’s fabled spell at Maine Road over the next 13 years would also see the Citizens recognise his legacy by naming a stand at Etihad Stadium after him.
Only the west stand which bears his name has ever taken the name of any former Citizens player. The club’s fanbase also voted overwhelmingly in favour of honouring Bell in 2004 following their move to the stadium. While his 13 years at Maine Road saw Bell receive the nickname, The King of the Kippax.
Malcolm Allison knew Bell had the potential for great things after scouting the midfielder at Bury. But City’s then-assistant coach would publicly play down his abilities to secure a better fee. A knee injury would also deny Bell just over two years of his career between November 1975 and December 1977.
Bell returned to an emotional standing ovation as Manchester City’s supporters saw their hero make his long-awaited comeback. The midfielder was adored at Maine Road, where fans also dubbed him Nijinsky after the champion racehorse for his speed and stamina, as City enjoyed a dominant period.
Manchester City were a sight to behold during the late-1960s with Bell pulling their strings. He would also write his name amongst the Citizens’ record goalscorers. Bell also won the 1967/68 First Division title, the 1968/69 FA Cup, the 1969/70 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the EFL Cup in 1969/70 with City.
|Managers:||Joe Mercer (1967-71), Malcolm Allison (1971-73), Johnny Hart (1973), Tony Book (1973), Ron Saunders (1973-74), Tony Book (1974)|
|Years at Manchester City:||1967-1974|
Joe Mercer broke Manchester City’s then-club record to sign Francis Lee from his local team, Bolton Wanderers, in October 1967 for £60k. His goals would prove to be the final piece of Mercer’s puzzle. The striker fired the Citizens to their first top-flight title since the 1936/37 campaign during 1967/68.
Lee had honed his trade as a winger but moved into the middle to incredible success for Manchester City. He would also repay the club record fee Mercer spent by scoring the fourth goal in the Citizens’ 4-3 win at Newcastle United on the final day to lift the 1967/68 league title over Manchester United.
Vital goals would become his trademark as Lee fired Manchester City’s golden era into full effect. The forward was their top scorer in four consecutive seasons. His penalty was also enough to beat Gornik Zabrze 2-1 to win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970. Neil Young had earlier put City 1-0 ahead.
Penalties would also prove to be his trademark toward the end of Lee’s career with Manchester City. During the 1971/72 season, Lee registered 15 of his 35 goals for the campaign from the 12-yard spot. His record earned the striker the nickname, ‘Lee Won Pen’, before moving to Derby County in 1974.
|Managers:||Joe Mercer (1965-71), Malcolm Allison (1971-73), Johnny Hart (1973), Tony Book (1973), Ron Saunders (1973-74), Tony Book (1974-75)|
|Years at Manchester City:||1965-1975|
Not only is Mike Summerbee one of the most popular players in Manchester City’s history, he is also one of their most influential legends. He arrived at Maine Road following a storied start to his career at Swindon Town. The winger debuted for the Robins aged 16 and left for £35k after over 200 games.
Mercer’s move for the then-22-year-old would add an incisive forward to a Citizens squad that would win the 1965/66 Second Division title. It also added another of the men who scored at Newcastle on the final day of the 1967/68 campaign. Summerbee was often one of the bravest players on any field.
The forward played in all 52 of the Citizens’ second-tier and cup fixtures during the 1965/66 season. He also scored 10 goals to end their top-flight hiatus after adding a new dimension to Mercer’s team with his trickery. Nor was Summerbee ever afraid to enter a physical fight and went after any chance.
Summerbee could tear defences to shreds and thrived with his back to the net. His teammates would even call the forward, Buzzer, for his fiery temperament. While his skills alongside Bell and Lee would form Manchester City’s Holy Trinity. Summerbee eventually left City to join Burnley in 1975 for £25k.
|Managers:||Peter Hodge (1928-32), Wilf Wild (1932-39)|
|Years at Manchester City:||1928-1939|
November 1, 2017 would be the day that Eric Brook was no longer Manchester City’s all-time record scorer. Aguero broke the attacker’s record that had stood for an astounding 78 years en route to the club’s new record. But the outbreak of WWII denied Brook his opportunity to score yet more goals.
Manchester City paid Brook just £8-a-week, which dropped to £6 over the summer, and awarded the outside left forward a £650 loyalty bonus after five seasons at the club. He would spend a total of 11 years with the Citizens and amassed almost 500 appearances. He also scored 177 goals in 493 games.
Brook had earned Manchester City’s interest after starting out at Barnsley in the 1920s. He would go on to add a dynamic and powerful presence to the wings at Maine Road in 1928. His muscular build allowed the winger to bully defenders. While Brook prided himself on his deceptiveness and speed.
The forward also boasted a powerful shot and helped the Citizens reach back-to-back FA Cup finals in 1933 and 1934. While Everton won their 1933 showpiece 3-0, Manchester City rallied to win the cup in 1934 by beating Portsmouth 2-1. Brook also struck a crucial and spectacular goal en route to the final.
For some Manchester City fans, club legend Brook’s goal to beat Stoke in the quarter-finals was and remains one of the Citizens’ greatest-ever strikes. He took aim from distance in front of 84,569 fans. It was a speculative attempt but the ball would change path in mid-flight and would nestle into the goal.
|Managers:||Jock Thomson (1949-50), Les McDowall (1950-63), George Poyser (1963-64)|
|Years at Manchester City:||1949-1964|
Born in Berlin in 1923, Bernhard Carl ‘Bert’ Trautmann never set out to become a footballer yet became one of Manchester City’s earliest legends. The German instead joined The Hitler Youth as a junior and trained as a paratrooper. WWII then saw Trautmann fight Russia in some of the most hostile conditions.
Russians would capture Trautmann but he managed to escape, only to be caught again by the allied troops. British soldiers would send him to a prisoner of war camp Ashton-in-Makerfield, near Wigan. There, Trautmann used his training as a paratrooper to excel as a goalkeeper during football games.
An injury had forced the athletic Trautmann to move into goal. But his fearless nature made him an incredible talent. His skills then grew and grew after joining St Helens Town following the end of the conflict and opting to remain living in England. There, Trautmann also caught Manchester City’s eye.
Trautmann joined Manchester City in October 1949 and his debut followed a month later at home to Arsenal. The goalkeeper would then start exactly 100 consecutive games and his incredible abilities won the public over. An injury would disrupt his run of outings but the German was a Citizens hero.
Manchester City fans had taken Trautmann in over his first two years at Maine Road. He also had an array of sensational outings to even merit a guard of honour away at Fulham as fans applauded the goalkeeper off the field. While Trautmann ended his career having saved 60% of all penalties faced.
Trautmann often proved himself to be the best goalkeeper in England as he became a Manchester City legend. He also became the first German to play in the FA Cup final in 1955 but Newcastle won the tie 3-1. Yet the Citizens would return to Wembley one year later and beat Birmingham City 3-1 this time.