Derby County is saddened to have learned of the passing of its former player and 1974/75 title-winner Francis Lee at the age of 79.
When Lee arrived at Derby in the summer of 1974, he had already won a League title, the FA Cup, the League Cup, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and had 27 England caps to his name, as well as featuring at the 1970 FIFA World Cup.
His capture by then manager Dave Mackay was a stroke of genius, and it would bring Lee another Football League winners’ medal inside 12 months as the Rams won the First Division title for the second time in four seasons.
Born in Lancashire in 1944, Lee played for just three clubs. His playing career began at Bolton Wanderers in the late 1950s as a 16-year-old and he spent eight years with the Trotters before moving to Manchester City in 1967 for a then club record fee of £60,000. During his time at Maine Road, he became one of the most prolific goalscorers in English football and a City all-time great.
At the age of 30 he joined Derby in 1974 and his scoring exploits continued as he helped the Rams to their second league title in 1975, as well as lifting the Charity Shield a few months later.
In what was his final season in professional football in 1975/76, he rounded off his playing career in a 6-2 win for the Rams at Ipswich Town on the final day of the campaign and, fittingly, he was on target against the Tractor Boys.
Lee made 80 appearances for Derby County, scoring 30 goals in two seasons. Although he will mainly be remembered for his association with Manchester City, his short time at the Baseball Ground will never be forgotten.
Lee was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2010 and in 2016 he was awarded a CBE for services to football and charity.
The condolences of everyone associated with Derby County go out to the family and friends of Francis Lee at this incredibly difficult time.