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Boys of '69 hail Pep's FA Cup final squad

UNFORGETTABLE:  A proud Manchester City skipper Tony Book receives the FA Cup from Princess Anne at Wembley after our 1969 final triumph over Leicester City

UNFORGETTABLE: A proud Manchester City skipper Tony Book receives the FA Cup from Princess Anne at Wembley after our 1969 final triumph over Leicester City

Members of Manchester City’s 1969 FA Cup-winning squad are urging Pep Guardiola’s 2019 side to summon up one last push ahead of Saturday’s Wembley showpiece with Watford and so mark the 50-year anniversary of that famous triumph in fitting fashion.

Fifty years ago, the supremely gifted City side assembled by Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison, achieved FA Cup glory underneath the Twin Towers by securing a famous 1-0 final win over Leicester thanks to Neil Young’s iconic brilliant goal.

Now, half a century on, Pep Guardiola’s 2019 squad will seek to set the seal on a historic campaign by overcoming the challenge of Watford in Saturday’s FA Cup final which would confirm an unprecedented English quadruple of trophies.

And as they looked ahead to the season finale, City’s heroes of yesteryear said securing what would be our sixth FA Cup success would both cap an extraordinary campaign – and serve as a perfect way to mark the 50-year anniversary of that ’69 triumph.

“It would be brilliant if we could lift the FA Cup this year,” said former City midfield marvel Colin Bell, one of the Club’s most gifted players of all time and a key cornerstone of the wonderful side assembled by Mercer and Allison.

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“It couldn’t have worked out better if it works out that way that 50 years down the line, we lift the FA Cup again.

“What a fantastic way to celebrate that would be - and the way we have been playing this season you wouldn’t bet against them too.

“In the past, when I’ve been going to our home games, no matter who we were playing I was never comfortable until the 90th minute what the result was going to be.

“But this season, after the first half dozen games or so, given the way we shaped up I was genuinely confident we were capable of beating anybody.

“The players are so happy, and the manager is doing such a wonderful job. And to win the FA Cup would be such a wonderful way to end the season.”

Those effusive sentiments were echoed by Bell’s team-mate, Tony Book, skipper of our 1969 Cup-winning side.

A fellow icon of the Club thanks both to his magnificent career on the field in sky blue and as a subsequent City manager, the former right-back also asserted that the squad assembled by Guardiola is the finest he has ever seen.

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“It would be lovely if the current side could do it and I think they have got every chance as it’s the finest squad of players I’ve ever witnessed at the Club,” said Tony.

“You can go through your Barcelonas and what have you, but I genuinely believe that Pep has assembled the best squad in the world. I really do.

“So, it would be fantastic if we could win the FA Cup again – especially 50 years on from our success in 1969.”

Francis Lee, a fellow totem of the side that emerged triumphant over the Foxes at Wembley half a century ago, is equally adamant about City’s special qualities.  

“This team are quite capable of winning anything,” said the legendary former England striker. “Whatever they are playing for – be it the FA Cup or the league - you would be back them to win.

“City are a super team and play a wonderful brand of football. Pep is such a special manager and the team are a pleasure to watch.”

Tommy Booth, a teenage colossus of a centre-half in our triumph over Leicester all those years ago, is another of the class of ’69 to have been entranced by the way Guardiola’s players have gone about their business.

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“I wouldn’t put it past them to lift the FA Cup,” said Tommy. “They are playing so well. The manager has been unbelievable, and he knows how to get the best out of the players, and I think we can all see that they just love playing under him.”

However, the eagerly-awaited meeting with Javi Gracia’s talented Watford side, who produced a superb comeback in their semi-final clash with Wolves to secure a dramatic 3-2 win after extra time, will not be without its dangers.

And a number of the 1969 squad have urged their modern-day City counterparts to ensure there is no hint of complacency in our approach to the game.

Supremely gifted wing wizard of our '69 Cup-winning squad and now Club ambassador, Mike Summerbee, urged a special word of warning to the City squad.

“I think we have a great opportunity. But we can’t be complacent – if you take that foot off the pedal it can catch you out,” Buzzer cautioned.“To win any game, especially against tough fellow Premier League opposition, is always very difficult.”

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Left-back Glyn Pardoe, another of the boys of 69 – and who still holds the distinction of being the youngest debutant in the club’s history – echoed Buzzer’s words of warning.

“These sorts of games are harder in some ways as your mindset can be different if you are not careful,” Glyn observed.

“In an FA Cup final I’m sure they will be more than up for the occasion and it would be great for Pep if we can do it and I think we’ve got a great chance.

“It would be brilliant if the current side could do on and win the Cup. How great is it that we’re in the FA Cup final, our women have already lifted the FA Cup and our young lads reached the FA Youth Cup final?

“What a season it would be if we could go on and win on Saturday at Wembley. It would just finish things off nicely.”

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