Francis Henry Lee, affectionately known as Franny Lee, was a prominent figure in English football and business. Born on April 29, 1944, he left a lasting legacy in the world of sports and entrepreneurship.
Lee was a versatile talent who made a name for himself as both a professional footballer and a successful businessman. His journey began as a striker for various football clubs, and he later ventured into the world of business.
- Lee’s football journey started with Bolton Wanderers, where he made his debut as a 16-year-old amateur player.
- He went on to become Bolton’s top scorer during the 1962-63 season in the First Division.
- In 1967, he made a significant move to Manchester City, becoming a crucial part of their push for the 1967-68 League Championship.
- Lee’s career at Manchester City included winning the 1969 FA Cup and setting a British record for the most penalties scored in a season during the 1971-72 season.
- He also held the record for the most goals in Manchester derbies, scoring ten goals against Manchester United.
- Lee left Manchester City in 1974 to join Derby County, where he scored twelve league goals and helped the team secure the league title.
- Lee represented England at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and made history as the first English player to receive a card in a World Cup match.
- After retiring from football, Lee ventured into business. He founded FH Lee Ltd, a company that recycled paper to manufacture products like kitchen roll and toilet paper.
- This business made him a millionaire and employed notable figures like comedian Peter Kay.
Chairman of Manchester City:
- In 1994, Lee became the chairman and major shareholder of Manchester City, bringing hope and enthusiasm to the club.
- He appointed his friend Alan Ball as manager, but the club’s fortunes took a downturn, resulting in relegation.
- Lee stepped down in 1998, and David Bernstein succeeded him as chairman.
- Lee also had a career as a racehorse trainer, achieving success with horses like Sir Harry Hardman.
Personal Life and Honors:
- Outside of football, Lee briefly returned to cricket and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2016 for his contributions to football and charity.
- On October 2, 2023, Francis Henry Lee passed away at the age of 79 after a long battle with cancer.
- His impact on football and business, as well as his memorable moments on and off the field, continue to be celebrated and remembered by fans and admirers alike.
Franny Lee’s remarkable journey from the football pitch to the business world and his lasting contributions to both fields will forever be a part of his enduring legacy.