MANCHESTER CITY legend Colin Bell has died aged 74.
The former England international died on Tuesday afternoon after a short non-Covid related illness.
Bell played for Bury and the San Jose Earthquakes either side of his iconic 13-year career at City, where he was a star from 1966 to 1979.
He is widely considered one of the club's finest ever players, scoring 152 goals in 492 appearances.
And he is particularly well known for his role in the famous City trio 'Bell, Lee and Summerbee' alongside Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee.
City's players will walk out in retro No 8 shirts before their League Cup semi-final against Manchester United on Wednesday in tribute.
A City statement on Tuesday read: "It is with the deepest sadness and heaviest of hearts we announce the passing of Manchester City legend Colin Bell.
"Colin passed away peacefully this afternoon after a short, non-Covid related illness, aged 74. He leaves behind wife Marie, children Jon and Dawn and grandchildren, Luke, Mark, Isla and Jack."
While at City, Bell won the First Division in 1967-68 and won the 1969 FA Cup the following season.
As well as landing the League Cup in 1970 Bell and City also won the European Cup Winners' Cup in the same season.
He won City's player of the year and lead the team to the title in 1968 and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2004.
Bell won 48 England caps and scored nine goals for the Three Lions in that time.
And he once said: "I was put on this earth to be a footballer.
“I just thought, at the back of my mind, even though I was going through school, I would become a professional footballer."
Oasis megastar Liam Gallagher led tributes that poured in online and tweeted: "COLIN BELL RIP MCFC."
And City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: “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 teammates, 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. The fact that we have a stand at the Etihad Stadium named after Colin speaks volumes about the importance of his contribution to this club.
“Colin was incredibly humble and a modest and understated man with an obvious inner strength of character. He was clearly comfortable with who he was and what he had achieved in the game.
"For the rest of us, there is always the thought of what might have been if injury had not affected his career. Undoubtedly more trophies for City and far more than the 49 England caps to his name.
“Our club has lost a true great. Everyone’s thoughts and best wishes are with Colin’s family.”
Current City star Phil Foden paid tribute, as did former players Pablo Zabaleta and Paul Dickov.
Dickov wrote: "Devastated to hear of passing of Colin Bell.
"One of the greatest if not THE greatest player to ever wear the City shirt and more than anything the nicest and most humble man you could ever meet.
"Thoughts, love and prayers to all the Bell family. RIP Legend."
Gary Lineker revealed that Bell was one of his "favourite players" growing up.
Foden wrote: "Extremely saddened to hear Colin Bell has passed away.
"The King Of Kippax was a true legend and someone I've grown up admiring. You'll be sorely missed Nijinsky."
Bell was nicknamed 'Nijinsky' after the famous Derby winning racehorse and 'The King of Kippax' relating to the Kippax Street stand at City's old home Maine Road.
He has a stand named after him at the Etihad given the high esteem in which he is held at the club.
Other tributes poured in online after the news was announced.
Man Utd tweeted: "All of us at ManUtd are deeply saddened by the passing of Colin Bell, a true footballing legend.
"Condolences to Colin’s loved ones and everyone at Man City. #ACityUnited."
Born in County Durham, Bell's career started at Bury in 1963 and the 6ft star did not retire until 1980 after a brief stint with the Earthquakes in the USA.
City boss Malcolm Allison dubbed Bell 'hopeless' in a cunning ploy to sign him from Bury in 1966.
He struggled with a serious knee injury towards the end of his City career which eventually forced him to retire.
Bell received an MBE from the Queen in April 2005.
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