Manchester City players will pay tribute to former midfielder Colin Bell ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final tie against rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford after the death of the club’s own ‘king’.

City announced Bell had “passed away peacefully” on Tuesday afternoon aged 74 following a “short, non-Covid related illness”.

Former England international Bell made 492 appearances and scored 152 goals for City during his 13-year stay after joining from Bury in 1966, helping secure promotion to the top flight.

Bell was one of City’s stand-out players as they edged out Manchester United to win the First Division title in 1968.

FA Cup success followed in 1969 as well as two more trophies in 1970 – the League Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Bell was the club’s top scorer three times.

Bell earned the nickname ‘The King of the Kippax’ after one of the terraces at their former Maine Road home, and has a stand named after him at the Etihad Stadium following a fans’ vote.

The current players are set to wear a retro number eight shirt before kick-off at Old Trafford on Wednesday night in honour of the man many regard as simply the best.

City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said Bell was “a player held in the highest regard” and “the passage of time does little to erase the memories of his genius”.

Former City captain Vincent Kompany lifted the Premier League trophy four times, the FA Cup twice and four League Cups as the power balance shifted to the blue half of Manchester.

The Belgian defender, though, paid tribute to Bell’s place in the club’s history.

“Heard all about The King! A true Manchester City legend. This man was on another level, if only I could have seen him play,” Kompany said on Twitter.

“Incredibly kind and humble when I met him. Carla and I send our love to his family and friends.”

Winger Mike Summerbee played alongside Bell in City’s flamboyant team, and remembered his former team-mate’s humility despite all of the plaudits coming his way.

“He was a huge star for Manchester City, but you would never have known it,” Summerbee said on the club’s official website.

“He was quiet, unassuming and I always believe he never knew how good he actually was. He was just the greatest footballer we have ever had.

“Kevin De Bruyne reminds me a lot of Colin in the way he plays and the way he is as a person.”

Former England international Summerbee, now a club ambassador, added: “He was adored by the City fans and for our supporters to say he is the best they have ever seen, you don’t get a better compliment than that, do you?

“He was very special and he will be very sadly missed.”

Alongside Bell and Summerbee, forward Francis Lee was part of City’s memorable ‘Holy Trinity’.

Lee felt Bell “goes into the top five City players of all time – only in the last 10, 15 years has anyone else come along who can take that mantle”.

Tony Book, who captained that City team in the late 1960s and early 1970s, added: “He was a very special person, not only as a footballer but as a man – I can’t believe he’s gone. He is irreplaceable.”

A tweet from FIFA read: “Seldom has a player been as beloved at a club as Colin Bell at Man City. He was affectionately known as ‘The King of the Kippax’ and has a stand named in his honour at the City of Manchester Stadium. RIP to one of England’s finest all-time midfielders.”

Rivals United also paid tribute, writing on Twitter: “All of us at Man Utd are deeply saddened by the passing of Colin Bell, a true footballing legend. Condolences to Colin’s loved ones and everyone at Man City.”

Bell is survived by his wife Marie, children Jon and Dawn and grandchildren Luke, Mark, Isla and Jack.

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