THE footballing world has been paying tribute to former Shakers, Manchester City and England midfielder Colin Bell who died this week at the age of 74.

Bell made 492 appearances and scored 152 goals for City during his 13-year stay, but it was at Bury where he first made an impression as a footballer making 82 league appearances and scoring 25 goals before his move to City in 1966 for £45,000.

Despite his phenomenal success at Maine Road, Bell never forgot the club where his career started.

Bell was a youth player with Horden Colliery Welfare before joining Second Division Bury in 1963 as a teenager.

He quickly established himself at Gigg Lane, becoming the Shakers’ skipper, and in later years he spoke with sadness about the club’s demise.

“Why Bury? The feel of the club has not changed over the years. It’s hard to believe what’s happened,” he told the Daily Mail.

“It was wonderful, because I was just a shy lad from the North East.

“Leaving home was a big wrench but it didn’t feel like it in the end. It was like moving from family to family. They were all the same. Everybody cared for you.

“I could’ve gone into my shell and not produced anything. The difference was that homely effect they had. So many people wanted to know you and help.

“Being so happy and relaxed in that second family down in Bury, I performed as I should have done and didn’t look back.

“That was all down to Bury and the supporters.”

Former Shakers player David Buchanan tweeted: “RIP Colin Bell. As a young player for @buryfcofficial I remember asking a lifelong fan how good was he? Never forget their reply. “He’d bring a tear to your eye if you’d seen how good he was”. Kind of sums it up really.”

Supporters trust Forever Bury paid their own tribute in a statement.

“We are saddened to hear about the passing of Colin Bell, a player who many Shakers supporters enjoyed watching,” it read.

“It was always great to welcome him back to Gigg Lane.”

Phoenix club Bury AFC said: “We are extremely saddened to hear this evening of the passing of former Bury FC player and Manchester footballing legend Colin Bell.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”

It was City who announced his death on Tuesday, a statement reading: “Colin passed away peacefully this afternoon after a short, non-Covid related illness, aged 74. He leaves behind wife Marie, children Jon and Dawn and grandchildren, Luke, Mark, Isla and Jack.”

City said “few players have left such an indelible mark” on the club as Bell, nicknamed ‘The King of the Kippax’ after one of the terraces at their former Maine Road home. In 2004, City fans voted to name a stand at the Etihad Stadium after Bell.

City team-mate Mike Summerbee paid tribute to “a lovely, humble man”.

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

“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 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.”

Midfielder Bell was at the heart of City’s successful side of the late 1960s and 70s.

Bell helped City secure promotion to the top flight in 1966 and was one of their standout players as they edged out Manchester United to win the First Division title two years later.

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.

Born in Hesleden, County Durham, Bell also won 48 England caps, and was part of the 1970 World Cup squad in Mexico. Having been hurt in a tackle by Manchester United’s Martin Buchan in November 1975, Bell saw his playing career ended prematurely by a knee injury as following an unsuccessful comeback, he retired from football in 1980 for good.

After football, Bell held coaching roles with City’s youth and reserve teams and later became a club ambassador.