This post provides the top 10 Manchester City greatest players of all time. Manchester City is one of the most successful football teams in England when you count the number of trophies they’ve won.
They’ve amassed an impressive thirty-three major domestic and European honors over the years, ranking them fifth among all the decorated teams in England.
To give you an idea, they’ve won more trophies than Tottenham Hotspur but are just behind Chelsea in this regard. Their trophy journey started a long time ago with their first major win in the 1904 FA Cup.
They also won their first top-division league title in the 1936–37 season. Over the years, they’ve added the League Cup and European trophies to their collection.
In the 2018–19 season, they made history, winning all the major English trophies available in one season. In 2022–23, they won the UEFA Champions League.
Even before now, some players laid their place for the foundation of the club’s success with notable records, and statistics. In no time, here are my top 10 greatest Manchester City Players of all time:
- Alan Oakes
- Joe Corrigan
- Mike Doyle
- Bert Trautmann
- Colin Bell
- Eric Brook
- Sergio Agüero
- Tommy Johnson
- Joe Hayes
- Billy Meredith
Let’s meet them.
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1. Alan Oakes
Alan Oakes may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of Manchester City legends, but his contribution to the club’s history is impressive.
Oakes joined Manchester City when he was just fifteen, and his career began with cleaning the boots of the legendary goalkeeper, Bert Trautmann.
His first taste of first-team action came in 1959, and from there, Oakes became a consistent performer in a team that faced its fair share of struggles.
He played a crucial role in helping City win the Second Division title in 1966, alongside stars like Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee.
In the late 1960s, he was a vital part of City’s top-flight success, including a memorable FA Cup win. Overall, Oakes registered 680 league and cup appearances for Manchester City, scoring 33 goals along the way. He remains a true icon in the club’s history and a well-deserved member of the Manchester City Hall of Fame.
2. Joe Corrigan
When it comes to legendary goalkeepers at Manchester City, Joe Corrigan is the first. He started as a youth player in 1966, and he made his debut in 1967, establishing himself as a key figure in City’s history.
Corrigan’s rise to prominence coincided with City’s golden era in the late 1960s and ’70s. He played a crucial role in their memorable cup double, clinching the UEFA European Cup Winners’ Cup and the League Cup. In 1976, he repeated his League Cup success with the team.
In total, Corrigan made 592 appearances for Manchester City, second only to Alan Oakes, and set a club record for goalkeepers.
With three Manchester City Player of the Year awards to his name, he remains a beloved figure in the club’s history, alongside legends like Frank Swift and Bert Trautmann. Joe Corrigan is, without a doubt, one of Manchester City’s all-time greats between the posts.
3. Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle is one of the most versatile and tenacious players In City history, joining the club in May 1962. He started as a kid with Stockport Boys and played as a right-back at the youth level.
However, when he broke into the first team in March 1965, he showed his adaptability, playing different roles, including wing-half and forward. But it was as a central defender that he truly found his calling.
Doyle’s reputation as a fierce and determined player earned him the title of the club’s hardest player in the official magazine. At the club level, he made 448 league appearances for Manchester City, netting 32 goals.
Among his many achievements, Doyle’s standout moment came when he scored in the 1970 League Cup Final victory over West Bromwich Albion.
He also captained the side in the 1976 League Cup Final. In total, Mike Doyle made 570 appearances for Manchester City and scored 41 goals.
4. Bert Trautmann
Bert Trautmann’s career with Manchester City is a thing of legend. When he signed with the club in 1949, it caused quite a stir. As a former Axis paratrooper, his arrival sparked protests, with 20,000 people attending a demonstration.
However, over time, he won the hearts of fans through his exceptional performances in goal, becoming a fixture in the team, and playing in almost 250 matches.
In 1956, Trautmann achieved legendary status with a remarkable display in the FA Cup Final. Despite suffering a serious injury with just 17 minutes remaining, he continued to play, making crucial saves to secure a 3–1 victory.
Trautmann’s contribution to Manchester City extended until 1964, with a total of 545 appearances. He was named FWA Footballer of the Year in 1956, however, Bert Trautmann, the heroic custodian of Manchester City’s goal, will always be remembered as one of the club’s all-time greats.
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5. Colin Bell
Colin Bell joined Manchester City In 1966 for £45,000, a move that shaped the club’s history. Assistant manager Malcolm Allison even misled other interested clubs, falsely claiming that Bell was “hopeless,” ensuring his arrival at City.
He was instrumental in helping City secure promotion to the First Division in the 1965–66 season, scoring the crucial goal that sealed the deal.
In the 1967–68 season, City clinched their second League Championship, earning him the nickname “Nijinsky” for his performance.
Throughout his career, Bell’s goal-scoring prowess and midfield mastery were impressive, helping City achieve incredible successes.
He played a key role in City’s League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup victories in 1970. Bell’s contributions continued, including a memorable appearance in the 1974 Football League Cup Final.
However, a severe knee injury in 1975 temporarily sidelined Bell, highlighting his irreplaceable status at the club. Although he left City in 1978–79, he is celebrated as one of the greatest midfielders to ever grace the club’s colors.
6. Eric Brook
In 1928, Eric Brook arrived at Manchester City with teammate Fred Tilson for a combined fee of £6,000. He was described as “on the small side,” and Brook’s skills as a clever winger quickly won over the fans.
Brook’s debut season with City was great as he played an important role in securing the team’s promotion to the First Division, scoring vital goals along the way.
His influence grew in the 1928–29 season, with Brook making 42 appearances and netting 14 times, while his teammate Tommy Johnson set a club record of 38 league goals. Throughout his time, Brook consistently delivered exceptional performances.
He led City to a third-place finish in the 1929–30 season and was instrumental in their FA Cup journey, scoring a memorable brace against Liverpool and a goal in a 10-1 thrashing of Swindon Town.
In the 1936–37 season, Brook played a central role in Manchester City’s first-ever League Championship win. His electrifying skills and prolific goal-scoring helped secure the title.
Brook continued to impress even after City’s relegation to the Second Division in the 1937–38 season. He remained the club’s top scorer, impressing fans and pundits with his tenacity and creativity on the field.
Eric Brook’s legacy at Manchester City is outstanding, scoring a total of 177 goals in 494 appearances and holding the record for most league goals for the club until 2019.
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7. Sergio Agüero
In 2011, Sergio Agüero made a high-profile move to Manchester City in a transfer worth £35 million. Over a decade, Agüero left a memorable mark on the Premier League giants. During his remarkable time at Manchester City, Agüero clinched five Premier League titles.
His most iconic moment came in his debut season when he netted a last-minute winner in the final league game, securing the club’s first league title in 44 years.
Agüero’s trophy cabinet also boasts a record-breaking six EFL Cups, an FA Cup, and a historic appearance in the UEFA Champions League final.
His honors include a Premier League Golden Boot and two appearances in the PFA Team of the Year. Notably, Agüero is the fifth-highest scorer in Premier League history and the highest non-English scorer, amassing 184 goals.
His prolific scoring spree for City was a defining feature of his career. Although his Premier League goal record for a single club was later surpassed.
8. Tommy Johnson
Tommy Johnson’s journey to becoming a Manchester City legend was an extraordinary one. Starting as a trainee in a local shipyard, Johnson’s talent on the football field eventually caught the eye of City’s defender Eli Fletcher, who insisted on signing him.
Johnson’s career with the club spanned from 1919 to 1930. Initially, Johnson’s appearances for Manchester City were sporadic, but he burst onto the scene in the 1925–26 season, scoring 20 goals, despite the team facing struggles in the league.
He was crucial in a historic 6–1 Manchester derby win and reached the FA Cup final, even netting a hat-trick against Clapton Orient.
However, the final ended in heartbreak as City lost 1–0 to Bolton Wanderers, and they were also relegated to the Second Division.
The following season, Johnson emerged as the top goal scorer with 25 goals, as the team aimed for a return to the top flight.
In a dramatic final match for promotion, Johnson’s hat trick in an 8–0 win seemed to secure their return but Portsmouth’s delayed match saw them clinch promotion by a mere one-two-hundredth of a goal. In the 1927–28 season, Johnson and his teammates triumphed, winning the Second Division.
Johnson reached the 20-goal mark for the third consecutive season, sharing the top goal-scorer honor with Frank Roberts.
Back in the top division, Johnson had a great season, scoring 38 goals in 39 league appearances, setting a club record.
In all, Tommy Johnson scored 166 goals in 354 appearances for Manchester City, including 158 league goals, a record he shares with Eric Brook.
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9. Joe Hayes
Joe Hayes was a prolific striker for Manchester City during his time with the club. In August 1953, he was given a trial with Manchester City, and just two months later, he made his debut against Tottenham.
At a young age, Hayes already showed immense promise. In the 1955 FA Cup Final, Hayes graced the pitch. Unfortunately, his team faced defeat, and a year later, Manchester City returned to the FA Cup Final, this time, Hayes scored the opening goal in a triumphant 3–1 victory.
Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, Hayes was a regular goal scorer. However, a knee injury in September 1963 hampered his abilities, resulting in limited playing time.
Eventually, he was transferred to Barnsley in the 1965 close season. Overall, Joe Hayes netted 152 goals in 363 appearances for Manchester City, being the fifth-highest goal scorer in the club’s history.
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