Manchester City to unveil tribute to legends Bell, Lee and Summerbee

Treble-winners will reveal tribute by world-famous sculptor before Champions League clash with Leipzig on Tuesday

Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee and Francis Lee will be immortalised at Etihad Stadium when Manchester City unveil statues of the former players on Tuesday. Photos: PA
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English and European Champions Manchester City will unveil a permanent tribute to three of their greatest players ahead of next Tuesday’s Champions League Group G clash with RB Leipzig.

City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, have had a long held desire to recognise the club’s storied past as part of the club’s legacy project and commissioned world-renowned sculptor David Williams-Ellis to fulfil the latest stage of the undertaking.

Williams-Ellis has now finished his piece depicting the legendary triumvirate of Colin Bell, Francis Lee and Mike Summerbee.

Details of the work are being kept under wraps until the unveiling next week but it is known that the sculptor’s latest work will be located on the West side of the Etihad Stadium perimeter and will be in place for fans to enjoy ahead of the game against Leipzig.

Bell, Lee and Summerbee are City legends from the 1960s and '70s, playing 1,000 games between them for the club, scoring 276 goals and amassing 83 caps for England.

Sadly Bell, who already has a stand named after him at the ground, and Lee, a former City chairman, have both passed away, but Summerbee, a club ambassador, will be present to see the statue unveiled.

A student of eminent drawing teacher, Nerina Simi, Williams-Ellis sought out classical training in Florence where his signature style was first established.

His sculptures, worked in clay, from life, are inspired by the romanticism of French sculptors Auguste Rodin and Antoine Bourdelle and are noted for their sense of movement and vitality.

With exhibitions proudly displayed at Perthshire’s Scone Palace, Aberdeen’s Maritime Museum and the IFC Building in Shanghai, Williams-Ellis is perhaps most famously known for his commission of the Normandy Memorial Trust’s D-Day Sculpture. That monument was unveiled by French President Emmanuel Macron and then-British Prime Minister Theresa May in 2019.

Designed and created at his home studio in Oxfordshire, Williams-Ellis' work on this City commission has focused on capturing the motion and characteristics of each player and embodying the spirit of their combined 30 years representing the club.

The initiative is the latest in a series of tributes to key figures forming the club’s legacy project, first announced in 2019 and directed by City chairman Al Mubarak.

Modern-day legends Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero and David Silva were celebrated on their respective departures from the club, with each of their sculptures located on the east side of the stadium, in addition to permanent mosaic artworks featured throughout the City Football Academy.

Speaking of his appointment to the project Williams-Ellis said: “It is a great honour to create a work of art for Manchester City Football Club celebrating the diverse, talented players, Bell, Lee and Summerbee.

“It’s been an extraordinary last two years, working on this project that celebrates these players from a great era in Manchester City’s football history.

“I hope that the work will give a sense of history and place to the legions of fans and visitors that come to the football ground from around the world and become an enduring part of Manchester’s cultural landscape.”

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Updated: November 23, 2023, 8:17 AM