Former City forward Stan Bowles has sadly passed away aged 75.

One of English football’s most naturally gifted footballers, the Moston-born Bowles began life as a junior at Maine Road and went on to play for the first team, though in a limited capacity.

There was no denying Bowles had tremendous ability, but Joe Mercer was reluctant to pitch the inexperienced 19-year-old into a side that was sweeping all before them.

Yet his debut for the Blues could not have been more promising.

In September 1967, the teenager burst into the first team with two goals against Leicester City in the League Cup and then bagged another two against Sheffield United just three days later.

Stan Bowles ([pictured left)

Four goals in his first two games – it was the stuff of dreams.

Deputizing for his good friend Tony Coleman, Bowles was then left out of the team for the next match and must have wondered what he had to do to impress the boss!

He was reinstated for the next two matches, but didn’t score.

The arrival of Francis Lee meant Bowles would play only one more game during what would be a title-winning season for Mercer’s side.

Dogged by off-field problems and what was regarded as a lax attitude to training, Bowles then had a disagreement with coach Malcolm Allison in a Manchester nightclub.

Things were beginning to go wrong for the lightly built youngster and he only played one full League match during the 1968–69 season.

After missing a flight to Amsterdam to play a friendly with Ajax, Bowles claimed he had turned up, but the plane had just gone.

The plane, in fact, had been delayed for four hours and Bowles, who had been lying low at a friend’s home due to a dislike of flying, was in even more trouble with the management.

He managed 11 more League and cup appearances for City in his final season but failed to score a single goal.

All things considered; it was hardly surprising when the club released him in 1970 with 21 appearances under his belt.

He was picked up by Bury, who also terminated his services shortly after.

After joining Crewe, he fared better and being away from the bright city lights couldn’t have done him any harm, either.

Later, a more mature Bowles would become a huge star at QPR – ironically replacing Rodney Marsh - where he made 315 appearances, scored 97 goals, and he is remembered as one of the game’s original mavericks.

His time at City could have been very different and his silky skills and natural ability would have made an established and confident Bowles a huge crowd favourite.

Unfortunately, we can only wonder at what might have been.

Manchester City would like to pass its condolences to Stan’s family at this sad time.