It is fitting that Kevin De Bruyne should be the first midfielder to score 100 City goals since Colin Bell. 

The Belgian’s second strike against Crystal Palace - a sublime left-foot drive - brought up a magnificent landmark that is a rare feat indeed. In fact, it is 53 years since a century of goals from a Manchester City midfielder was last achieved. 

De Bruyne, like Bell, is regarded as one of the greatest players to ever represent our Club and both have been integral parts of glorious eras. 

But the similarities don’t end there. 

Many observers have noted that De Bruyne and Bell shared many playing attributes that have each, in turn, ensured their legendary status among Manchester City supporters.  

Bell made 501 appearances for City from 1965 to 1979, with the latter years of his career ravaged by a serious knee injury that all-but ended his career. 

Indeed, he was arguably in his prime at the age of 29, when he was subjected to a devastating tackle against Manchester United in November 1975. 

It was, in effect, a career-ending injury that Bell somehow partially overcame to work his way back to some level of fitness, though his movement and speed were severely restricted. 

The final four years of his time at Maine Road yielded just 63 appearances and 10 goals and Bell was never the same player again.  

As a gauge regarding the level of the appreciation City fans had for the player the fans referred to as ‘The King of the Kippax’, when he did return to action after a lengthy absence as a second-half substitute against Newcastle United on Boxing Day 1977, the standing ovation he received from a packed Maine Road is said to have gone on for several minutes. 

De Bruyne has suffered injury, too, though thankfully nothing as devastating as the unfortunate Bell. 

That said, the hamstring issue that had blighted KDB in recent seasons resurfaced last August and he was forced to undergo what was a major medical procedure to try and cure the problem. 

Kevin had just turned 32 and, the first appearance of any kind since surgery was as he emerged to warm up against Sheffield United, also just after Christmas, was to the backdrop of a raucous standing ovation that lasted several minutes. 

"We were just looking around wondering what that noise was all about," recalled Nathan Ake later that day. "Then we could see Kevin warming up and realised, 'ah, that's what it is!'"

But whereas Bell’s return against Newcastle was limited in terms of impact, De Bruyne’s has been spectacular with goals and assists almost from the word go. 

His lengthy lay-off, if possible, has led to an even greater appreciation of what a magnificent footballer Kevin De Bruyne is, and the old saying ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ has maybe never been truer. 

Can, however, Kevin and Colin really be compared?  

Not in terms of what they have contributed to Manchester City, but in their physicality and playing style? 

Jon Bell, Colin’s son, sees some similarities, as well as several differences between his dad and Kevin – not to mention some more subtle habits that he believes are very alike. 

“They play in a similar type of position, and some might say their running action is quite similar as well,” says Jon.  

“There are other things about Kevin that remind me of my dad, too, like the way he rarely over-celebrates a goal – it’s a sort of emotional detachment from that sort of thing. 

“Dad was an incredible athlete and that came to him naturally, whereas I think Kevin has to work harder at that part of his game, but nobody is a clone, and everyone has their own attributes.  

“I don’t think Kevin has scored many headers, whereas my dad did - but they both scored a lot of spectacular goals and made many more for their team-mates. 

“It was a different time, of course, and the pitches were of a different quality, but I would say Kevin just keeps getting better as he goes along and was incredible last season. 

“The preparation and planning today compared with when my dad played is like chalk and cheese. 

“Dad didn’t like to hug anyone because he’d just say, 'that’s what we’re paid to do and let’s get on with it' – and I think there’s some of that in Kevin as well. 

“My dad’s mum died when he was young and his dad was down the mines, so I don’t think he was hugged as a child - he never hugged me until we won the Premier League in 2012. 

“When you see what Kevin did in his second game back at Newcastle you could see his intelligence and movement was way ahead of everyone else – I think that five months out allowed him to mentally reset and to come back now, fully recharged at this stage of the season, is fantastic. 

“It’s nice for my kids to hear the comparisons, but it’s not the first time a really good player has been compared to my dad. 

“Garry Flitcroft, Paul Lake, and Michael Johnson are three examples from the not-too-distant past – but then dad was often compared to Peter Doherty from the generation before he arrived - and some would say he wasn’t as good! 

“He’d say it was always nice to be compared with somebody who was held in such high esteem, but there was no footage for him to look at back then for him to fully understand the comparisons. 

“So, it didn’t really mean anything to him because he’d never seen him play. 

“I’ve spoken to Kevin about this, and he says that it’s impossible to make such comparisons, even if it is a nice compliment.” 

Of course, few are better placed than Mike Summerbee to contrast and compare two Club legends – being one himself! 

Our Club Ambassador is, unsurprisingly, effusive in his praise of both. 

“They are like twins, to me,” said Buzzer. 

“Colin was exceptional, but so is Kevin and they could both cover every blade of grass on the pitch. 

“I never thought I’d see a player who could be held up against Colin Bell, but Kevin De Bruyne proved otherwise. They are two superb footballers. 

“I see many similarities – the way they both could run a game, their running with the ball and their energy 

“I wouldn’t say Kevin is a shy man, he’s very much in control and is just a perfect player, just as Colin was. 

“Colin was quiet and humble, and so is Kevin and it’s quite amazing to have two great footballers that are so similar. 

“I was privileged to play alongside Colin, and I feel privileged to be able to watch Kevin – they are each a complete player and both an exceptional talent – they were playing on a different plain at times.” 

Dennis Tueart got to play for two years alongside Colin Bell before the latter’s devastating injury. 

He too sees why Kevin is talked of in the same breath as Bell. 

“I think Kevin makes more goals than Colin,” said Tueart. 

“Colin was a slightly better finisher and stronger in the air, but both have areas they were stronger in. 

“Kevin can certainly finish, having said that and you only have to look at his goals against Newcastle, Palace and FC Copenhagen to know that. 

“It’s such a shame because the damage to Colin’s knee was horrendous and it happened straight away – the ligaments had gone, his cartilage had gone, and his knee and the surrounding area was black and blue. It was a very complex injury. 

“United's Martin Buchan came in a bit late and high, and Colin had his studs stuck in the turf, so a lot of things went wrong at the same time, and it was sort of a worst-case scenario injury. 

“When I think of something that was once said of Ali Benarbia, I think of Kevin De Bruyne. 

“We’d just beaten Sheffield Wednesday 6-2 at Hillsborough and afterwards, Paul Wanchope – who scored two goals - was interviewed and said, ‘Ali Benarbia sees us before we see ourselves’ – and I think that applies to Kevin, who sees situations before the person he’s passing to even has. 

“He’s just a couple of moves ahead of everyone else and his passes are more like ‘this is where you should be’ – he forces the play. He almost instructs people to run in certain areas!” 

And regarding each player’s return after long absences, Tueart agrees the reception both received was unerringly similar. 

“That’s where you can make a direct comparison because it reminded me very much of that day,” he said. 

“The way the City fans showed their appreciation of what each player had done for the team was the same for both. 

“With Colin, it was as we came out of the tunnel for the second half, there was a cacophony of sound when the crowd saw Colin and it was as though the whole stadium had lit up and was engulfed in sound. 

“It was very similar when Kevin was warming up against Sheffield United in December, and the reception he got that day – the noise, warmth and anticipation of him coming back was incredible.” 

There are other links that connect Colin Bell and Kevin De Bruyne, too. 

Jon Bell’s son plays junior football with Kevin’s son, so while the two City legends can sadly never play alongside each other, another generation certainly can, as there is a junior team that occasionally has Bell and De Bruyne in the same line up . 

“Jack is five, and plays one year above Kevin’s son Mason, and it’s nice for Jack to hear comparisons of Jack’s grandad and Mason’s dad,” says Jon. 

“Jack’s taken part in a couple of tournaments at the City Academy, which is really nice 

“My daughter Isla is 11 and trains at the Academy every now and then – she’s a decent player.  

“It’s funny as well, because my mum watched us win the European Cup Winners’ Cup in Vienna back in 1970 and she was there in Istanbul when we won the Champions League last year, too. 

“We saw Kevin and a number of players afterwards - he was great, as was John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan and other players we saw on the night. 

“Jack really likes the John Stones song about United – unfortunately!  

“When dad died, John scored at Old Trafford and after the man of the match presentation, he sent a video to my kids, but he was quite emotional on the pitch and said he wasn’t good in situations like that.  

“He’s a great lad and so are his parents who are awesome as well. 

“Jack really looks up to Mike Summerbee and Mike always makes a big fuss of him. 

“He’s very proud of his grandad and the legacy he left behind and if you ask him who was our greatest player, he’ll still say ‘Colin Bell’. 

“It’s been really nice for the kids and the association we have with the Club. 

“Isla went out alongside David Silva as a mascot and Jack went out with Kevin when he was mascot – they were both captains for those games – Isla likes Phil Foden now, but it’s hard to pick any one player out because of the quality we have.” 

And Jon says something Kevin told him recently very much reminded him of his dad… 

“It was the evening of the Ballon d’Or, and we were watching our boys playing a game,” he said. 

“I asked why he wasn’t at the ceremony, and he said he’d been last year, and he decided he wanted to watch his son play football instead.   

“That was something my dad definitely would have said - he wasn’t one for presentations and suchlike and I don’t think Kevin is overly fond of them, either.” 

As a footnote on the 100 goals milestone. Colin reached his century in his 263rd game for City back in November 1971 with his second goal in the 4-0 win over Coventry completing his century. 

Kevin reached his century with his second strike against Palace – in his 372nd match for City. 

Sadly, assist stats weren’t collated during Colin Bell’s era, but that is one area where Kevin is almost unsurpassed not just for City, but in the football world. 

Two geniuses. Two Manchester City legends. Two unique footballers. 

Written by David Clayton