It is fair to say that being a Manchester City fan has had its ups and downs over the years.
For the younger ones among you, some of you might be wondering why we’re asking this when these days this particular set of supporters have never had it so good.
It’s true, while the Citizens today are a phenomenal force to be reckoned with, it hasn’t always been this way.
The club were champions of England in the 1960s, but they were also languishing in third tier of English football by the late 1990s.
Then, they came firing back, bagged themselves a game changing takeover and now they are a global powerhouses led by international super manager Pep Guardiola.
And, while we are looking for the 10 best players to have ever pulled on the famous sky blue shirt, a lot of these will come from the modern era where City have attracted some of the best footballing talent in the world.
But, like any club, legends can be made in the good times and the bad ones too so expect a few names from the halcyon days of Maine Road too.
Who then are the top ten Manchester City players of all time?
Let’s find out.
How many people can say that the played the FA Cup final with a broken neck?
City’s former German goalkeeper can.
What an eventful life Trautmann lived.
He signed up to be a Luftwaffe paratrooper for the Second World War, fought on the Eastern Front for three years, where picked up five medals. Later he would medals of a different kind.
During the war, he would be captured by the British and transferred to a prisoner of war camp in Lancashire. On release in 1948, he refused an offer of repatriation and settled in Lancashire, and started playing goalie for the local St Helens Town.
Four years later, then against much protest from the City faithful, he signed for Manchester City where he would go on to play for fifteen years.
In 1956, City made the FA Cup Final where, 17 minutes from the end of the game against Birmingham City, Trautmann dived at the feet of Peter Murphy and broke his neck but continued to play on, making a pair of vital saves as Manchester City won 3-1. True, the broken neck wasn’t diagnosed for another three days but still, that is highly impressive!
Weeks later, he was awarded the Football Writers’ Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year award, becoming the first goalie to win the award.
Trautmann would never play for his home country of Germany. He was not allowed to because he played football in England but by the time he retired in 1964, he had made 545 appearances for Manchester City and was a true fan favourite.
Kolo’s brother Yaya signed for City in 2010 in a big bucks deal from Barcelona in what was seen a statement from the club’s new mega money owners.
The powerful Ivorian was one of the world’s leading midfielders and it didn’t take him long to win his fans owners over, winning the FA Cup in his first season and scoring the only goals in the semi-final and then the final.
A year later he was nominated for player of the year as City won their first Premier League crown, and first top flight league win since 1968, ending 35 years without any silverware whatsoever.
Toure’s personal highlight in their first title winning season, and there were many, came when he landed a magnificent brace at St James’ Park. The first, a superb curling effort, the other a ferocious blast into the roof of the net as City went on to win 2-0 with a week of the season left to go, meaning the Premier League was almost, but not quite, secured.
When it finally was, that was the trophy that sparked a decade of dominance in which Yaya would play a starring role.
Another legend of the club’s modern era is Spanish World Cup and multi European Championships winner David Silva who is one of most talented and elegant players to have ever graced the Premier League let alone pull on sky blue jersey.
So good were/are his magical passing abilities, his team-mates christened him El Mago (the magician) or Merlin.
He was certainly incredible to watch during the decade he spent in Manchester where he helped City pick up trophy after trophy and switch the balance of power and influence in the city from red to blue.
For his national team he was capped a 125 times, plundering 25 goals from attacking midfield.
Between 2010 and 2020 the man from Gran Canaria conjured up 60 goals in 309 appearances before departing back to his homeland where he joined Real Sociedad.
Back to that all-conquering Manchester City of the late 60s and early 70s now and one of its truest stars.
Mike Summerbee, father to Nicky Summerbee who stared for the team in the less successful 90s, was voted player of the year by City fans in 1972 and 1973 and finished having played a total of 452 games for Manchester City.
Over that time, he won the old First Division, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the European Cup Winners’ Cup, and the Second Division.
It was a glorious period in the club’s history and Summerbee was one of the most influential figures throughout it.
Today he works as an ambassador for the club he loves and the club who love him right back.
One of England’s finest ever goalkeepers, Frank Swift is one of the biggest names in the history of Manchester City.
He played for the club, and only this club, on 338 occasions.
Swift was part of the 1937 title winning side and also helped the club win the 1934 FA Cup when he was absolutely amazing between the sticks.
Famed at the time for his cheeky sense of humour, above all else Big Swifty was a crowd pleaser who was a showman on the pitch and an entrepreneur off of it.
During football’s summer off-season, he and his brother Alf would run pleasure boats for tourists in their hometown of Blackpool which led to him meeting his future wife.
Like the previous goalkeeper on this page, he had been a part of the Second World War, conceding seven years of his career to the conflict.
On retirement, he moved into journalism where he began covering football in Manchester which tragically meant following City’s local rivals Manchester United on their ill-fated European game in Munich where a horrific air disaster took the lives of many including Frank Swift, a legend of the game.
Kevin De Bruyne
Few expected Kevin De Bruyne to have the distinguished Premier League career he has when Chelsea and Jose Mourinho cast him aside like rubbish – Mo Salah anyone? – after making just three appearances.
And yet, after a single season in Germany, the cultured Belgian midfielder was back in the Premier League at Manchester City where he has established himself as one of the world’s finest talents.
So good is he that Pep Guardiola has built his all-conquering team around him.
Routinely nominated for the Ballon d’Or, although admittedly yet to win one, the has earned a reputation as one of the best ball playing playmakers in the game, crucial for both club and country.
A graceful player he is as capable of switching play with a pin point pass out to the wings as he is firing in a 30 yard world class bullet into the back of the net.
As one of City’s modern era greats, he has, deservedly, racked up quite the medal haul and he is not done yet.
A key member of City’s formidable attack during those glory years of the late ’60s/early ’70s we keep banging on about, Francis – or Franny – Lee is a club legend, on the pitch at least.
We say that because Lee brought the club for £3 million and became club chairman in 1994. It was ill-fated disastrous role that came to an end in 1998 with the club facing relegation to the third tier of English football.
However, in his playing time at the club, he was voted City player of the year in 1970, the year that they won the European Cup Winners Cup.
In all, he played 340 games and scored 144 goals as well as being part of the title-winning side of 1967/68 and winning one FA Cup, one League Cup and a Cup Winners’ Cup.
Lee was capped by England 27 times during his spell as a City player, scoring 10 goals.
No, not that one. Lifelong City supporter Neil Young, who hailed from Falllowfield, was the creative provider of the City team during their glory years of the late 60s and early 70s.
Affectionately known as Nelly, he possessed a cultured left foot and had a handy knack for scoring the vital goals.
Chief among these were the two crucial strikes against Newcastle United that clinched the 1968 title and another in the European Cup Winners’ Cup victory of 1970.
He was also the scorer of the only goal in the 1969 FA Cup final against Leicester and the club’s top scorer as they won the old First Division title in 1968.
Officially he was a forward, but he could also operate on the right wing and scored 111 goals in 416 games.
In 2008, he was inducted into the Manchester City Hall of Fame, three years before his death, age 66, in 2011.
Kevin De Bruyne isn’t the only Belgian to make the list. City fans will never forget Vincent Kompany, their former title winning captain and defensive lynchpin.
Appointed club skipper at the beginning of the 2011/12 season, Kompany helped lead City to their first league title in 44 years.
Widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever defenders and one of the finest centre backs of the game’s modern era, Kompany was an ever present during the club’s decade of unrivalled success.
He even signed off in style.
On his final appearance, with the title still to be won, he struck a frankly quite ridiculous goal past Leicester City at the Etihad in front of his adoring home fans.
The goal capped an incredible story that seen the star plagued by injuries only to enjoy his goodbye moment in true class.
He returned home to Anderlecht that summer.
Following on from THAT Kolo Toure brace against Newcastle United in May 2012, there was one match of the season left to play.
That match was away at QPR and would provide one of the most iconic moments in Manchester City and Premier League history.
On the day, relegation threatened QPR were desperately trying to preserve their top flight status, while the Citizens required all three points to seal their first English crown in 44 years.
Trailing 2-1 with the match coming to an end any moment, it looked as though all hope was lost.
Then up stepped Manchester City’s legendary Argentinian Sergio Aguero.
With tearful City fans starting to leave the stadium, Edin Dzeko equalised in the second minute of stoppage time before Aguero popped up to fire one into the near post two minutes later to completely flip the result and send the title to Manchester City.
In all, he banked 184 goals for the club during his ten year stay in Manchester. He left for Barcelona in the summer of 2021 as the club’s leading all time goal scorer and one of the greatest foreigners English football has ever seen.
Colin Bell was, of course, the King of the Kippax, christened by fans after the name of one of the stands at the club’s former Maine Road stadiu.
He was the absolute star supreme of Manchester City’s successful era during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Any City fan that knows their history will tell you that Bell, nicknamed Nijinsky after one of the greatest racehorses of all time because of his majestic and agile movement, was then, and still is now, their greatest player of all time.
Staring for the side for 13 years, he plundered an incredible 117 goals, not bad for a guy that was primarily a midfielder.
He was also key to his team dominating at home and abroad during that golden era between 1968 to 1970 when City claimed the championship, FA Cup and League Cup as well as the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
It was even Bell, who won 48 England caps, that scored the goal that clinched promotion into the Championship in 1966.
Today, at The Etihad, the West Stand is named after him, while a huge portrait banner, declaring its subject to be the king, was erected to mark the great man’s passing in 2021.