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Francis Lee and the day that changed history at Manchester City

It's been a while since England players were Manchester City players, too. If anything, it's a mark of how much has changed over the years at Eastlands. In 2004, the fans were gutted whenever Shaun Wright-Phillips missed out on call-ups. In 2014, they pray nobody picks up a knock ahead of the crucial run of games the club has coming up.

Now, I'd be lying if I said I remembered the last time that the Blues were powerhouses of English football and had key players called up on international duty -- I'm only nearing 30 years old, after all. But, this week (Thursday, in particular) marks 47 years since the club signed someone who would go on to represent England at the World Cup and who would also be hugely influential in City's history: Francis Lee.

Then manager Joe Mercer paid 60 thousand pounds for the striker in 1967, breaking the club's transfer record at the time. He was described as "the final piece of the jigsaw" for City -- and the Blues went on to lift the First Division title on the final day of that season at Newcastle. Lee scored the winning goal that afternoon.

It wasn't quite a Sergio Aguero last-gasp strike, given it actually made the score 4-2 before the Magpies pulled one back to set up a nervy finish, but there is some merit in making a comparison between those two players. Their styles of play were similar; both had stocky builds and both drove at the defence with the ball.

The Argentine possibly keeps his feet more than the former England player did, given that he earned a reputation for diving -- harshly acquired or not -- with the nickname Lee Won Pen taking over from Lee One Pen, given to him for the number he scored. In his defence, he broke the record for penalties converted in a season during 1971-72, but he didn't win them all and those that he did weren't necessarily dives.

There was more personality to Lee, though, than the raw goal-scoring statistics suggest. Back in the era when footballers could commit terrible fouls and avoid being sent off, there were some players with a reputation for less than fair play. Leeds United's Norman Hunter was perhaps the enforcer's enforcer and when playing for Derby County in 1975, Lee threw punch after punch after punch in the hard man's direction after a "disagreement."

In the Manchester derby of November 1971, the striker made his feelings clear towards both the referee and United legend George Best about a "foul" in the centre circle. The two came together as the winger broke away for the Reds and Lee ran into the back of him, picking up a yellow card. However, indicating he thought the Irishman had dived, the City striker threw himself to the floor too.

His personality was less Aguero, but more Mario Balotelli or Craig Bellamy. You get the impression that had the media attention surrounded football in the late '60s and early '70s in the same way that it does today, Lee would have been the man fans of other teams loved to hate.

Up until last season, when Wayne Rooney netted a late free kick against the Blues in a 4-1 City win at the Etihad, Lee had been one of the four the joint-top scorers in the Manchester derby, too.

In the mid '90s, the forward returned to Maine Road under a wave of optimism. He bought the club from then-owner Peter Swales and became chairman. However, things didn't go as planned following the sacking of Brian Horton as manager as Alan Ball took the job instead. Two points from the opening 11 games set the stall out for a season that ended in relegation.

That wasn't necessarily the start of events that led to the Blues competing in the third tier of English football for the first (and so far only) time, but it was certainly a contributing factor. Lee resigned as chairman shortly before that second relegation was confirmed in 1998.

He was an extrovert. In the way that current chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and manager Manuel Pellegrini are dreadful for the British media, Lee was the exact opposite. The current set-up provides no stories at all.

However, at the annual general meeting before City's 1998 relegation, Lee had said he'd "jump off the Kippax" stand should they go down. It's those kinds of statements that the club has tried to distance themselves from in recent years.

The problem is that Lee's two eras at Maine Road are so far removed that there are two sets of perceptions of him. The crucial goals to help the club win the First Division, the Cup Winners' Cup, the FA Cup and the League Cup aren't on the radar for the generations that followed and saw the club hit their lowest point around the time of his chairmanship. Those who were youngsters in the '90s remember a poor chairman. Those who were kids of the '60s remember a great striker.

Whatever memories you have of him, there's little doubt that this week in October 1967 changed the shape of Manchester City.