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Farewell Franny Lee: Football greats including Graeme Souness, Micah Richards and Mike Summerbee greats gather to mourn Manchester City and England ace who died aged 79 after long battle with lung cancer


Football greats have gathered for the funeral of Manchester City and England striker Francis Lee who died aged 79 after long battle with lung cancer

Lee, who was affectionately known as ‘Franny’, passed away earlier this month, with his heartbroken family saying that he would be ‘sorely missed’. 

Legends of the game have been pictured ahead of the funeral service for the former Manchester City chairman, who was also a highly-successful businessman and racehorse trainer. 

Newcastle legend Graeme Souness, former Manchester City players Micah Richards and Mike Summerbee, and former captain of the club Keith Book have all been seen attending Manchester Cathedral today where the funeral is being held. 

Lee scored 148 goals in 330 appearances for Man City before spending four troubled years as chairman of the club in 1994, replacing Peter Swales. 

Football greats have gathered for the funeral of Manchester City and England striker Francis Lee (pictured) who died aged 79 after long battle with lung cancer

Football greats have gathered for the funeral of Manchester City and England striker Francis Lee (pictured) who died aged 79 after long battle with lung cancer

Legends of the game, including former Manchester City defender Micah Richards (pictured) have been pictured ahead of the funeral service for the former Manchester City chairman

Legends of the game, including former Manchester City defender Micah Richards (pictured) have been pictured ahead of the funeral service for the former Manchester City chairman

Former Manchester City player Mike Summerbee has also been seen attending Manchester Cathedral today where the funeral is being held

Newcastle legend Graeme Souness ahead of a funeral service for Francis Lee at Manchester Cathedral

Former Manchester City captain Tony Book pictured outside Manchester Cathedral today

Former Manchester City captain Tony Book pictured outside Manchester Cathedral today

Former Manchester City player and manager Joe Royle was seen attending the service today

Former Manchester City player and manager Joe Royle was seen attending the service today

Lee became a multi-millionaire in his retirement thanks to the success of his toilet paper company which allowed him to take over as the majority shareholder at Man City in 1994. 

It would be football that first brought Lee into the limelight – including his unforgettable sending off after getting into a vicious brawl with Leeds United hardman Norman Hunter.

Described as one of City’s all-time greats, Lee won the First Division, FA Cup, League Cup and a European Cup Winners’ Cup during eight years with the club.

The stocky forward also earned 27 England caps, scoring 10 goals in the process and he represented his country at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

Lee began his career at Bolton Wanderers before signing for City for a then record fee of of £60,000 in 1967. He was the club’s top goalscorer for five consecutive seasons from 1969/70 to 1973/74, helping City to a number of trophies.

After leaving City he won another league title with Derby in 1975 in a spell otherwise recalled for an on-pitch fight with Leeds’ Norman Hunter. Lee suffered a cut lip that needed four stitches, and on the way to the dressing room he attacked the Leeds man again, resulting in a four week suspension.

‘It’s a good job I didn’t get in the dressing room afterwards,’ he said later. ‘I might have just been coming out on parole now.’

After scoring 30 goals in two seasons for Derby, he retired in 1976 to focus on his business commitments.

The coffin of former Manchester City player and chairman Francis Lee carried to the church ahead of his funeral service at Manchester Cathedral

The coffin of former Manchester City player and chairman Francis Lee carried to the church ahead of his funeral service at Manchester Cathedral

Lee's coffin being carried by six pallbearers, with a large bouquet of white flowers resting on top of it. A floral tribute with Lee's nickname 'Franny' can also be seen in the background

 Lee’s coffin being carried by six pallbearers, with a large bouquet of white flowers resting on top of it. A floral tribute with Lee’s nickname ‘Franny’ can also be seen in the background 

The coffin is laid in a hearse with a floral tribute reading 'Lee 7'. Francis Lee wore the No.7 shirt for his Manchester City debut against Wolves

The coffin is laid in a hearse with a floral tribute reading ‘Lee 7’. Francis Lee wore the No.7 shirt for his Manchester City debut against Wolves

Francis Lee's wife Gill Lee pictured at her husband's funeral in Manchester

Francis Lee’s wife Gill Lee pictured at her husband’s funeral in Manchester

Lee’s entrepreneurial spirit first manifested itself as a teenager when he used an old brewery lorry to collect waste paper.

It was this market he exploited, ploughing his football earnings into setting up FH Lee Ltd, a company which specialised in waste paper recycling and haulage before expanding into toilet roll, kitchen roll, foil and cling film.

He eventually sold the company for £8.35million in 1984, making £6m.

He later bought stables and had some success training racehorses before buying City from the unpopular Peter Swales in 1994.

He was hailed as a returning hero by City fans, but his early ambitious promises proved way off the mark.

‘If cups were awarded for cock-ups, you would not be able to move in City’s boardroom,’ Lee later admitted after a series of poor managerial appointments – Alan Ball, Steve Coppell, Frank Clark – set the club on a downward spiral.

City were relegated to the second tier and were on their way down to the third when Lee resigned in 1998.

Despite his departure, he retained shares until selling to Thaksin Shinawatra in 2007 and continued to attend City games regularly. He was made CBE for services to sport and charity in 2016. 



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