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World Cup A-Z: B for Bell

ACTION STATIONS: Colin Bell in action for England in their famous World Cup qualifier against Poland in 1973

ACTION STATIONS: Colin Bell in action for England in their famous World Cup qualifier against Poland in 1973

We continue the build-up to Russia 2018 with our own A-Z of the World Cup – where the focus is firmly trained on City.

B is for Bell

Colin Bell’s place in City folklore is well documented and the silky midfielder also deservedly stands in the pantheon of England’s truly great post-war midfielders.

But for Nijinsky, the World Cup proved to be a tournament laced with frustration and disappointment.

Having become a fulcrum of the City side that won the league title, FA Cup and League Cup in quick succession during our golden period under Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison, Colin was selected as part of Sir Alf Ramsey’s squad for the 1970 World Cup finals out in Mexico.

READ: World Cup player focus 1 sergio aguero

Defending the Jules Rimet trophy won so memorably at Wembley back in 1966, a hugely-talented England squad, also containing Colin’s Maine Road colleague Francis Lee, was strongly tipped by many to retain their world crown.

And after navigating their way through the group stages into a quarter-final showdown with West Germany, England looked set fair after powering into a two-goal lead.

However, after the Germans narrowed the deficit, Colin was sent on as a substitute in the sweltering Leon heat as England sought to seal the win.

Instead, Uwe Seeler levelled the scores eight minutes from time to send the game into extra-time where Gerd Muller subsequently broke English hearts to snatch victory.

HALYCON DAYS: Colin Bell was a key part of the Manchester City side which enjoyed huge success during the late 1960s and early 1970s

Fast forward three years to October 1973 and Colin was now a key midfield figure as England played host to Poland at Wembley in their final qualifying game in the knowledge that victory would secure the Three Lions’ ticket to the 1974 World Cup finals.

But despite peppering the visitors goal with shots as they launched wave after wave of attacks, England found the Poles – in particular goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski - in inspired form.

Given the incessant pressure it seemed as if a goal must come and eventually it did… to Poland.

READ: World Cup AZ A

Early in the second half Jan Domarski stunned the 100,000 Wembley crowd by drilling a shot past Peter Shilton.

An Allan Clarke penalty gave England hope and the hosts laid siege to the Polish goal in a frantic final 20 minutes but, despite hitting the woodwork twice and having four efforts cleared off the line, the Poles somehow prevailed.

Sir Alf Ramsey subsequently resigned as England manager and Colin’s terrible knee injury sustained two years later while playing for City meant he never got the opportunity to figure at another major tournament with England.

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