Mens Team

Summerbee: Tony Book an all-time great captain

Summerbee: Tony Book an all-time great captain
Mike Summerbee believes City’s 1970 European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph helped serve to cement Tony Book’s status as one of English football’s finest-ever captains.

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of our famous 2-1 victory over Gornik Zabrze in Vienna where Book skippered Joe Mercer’s legendary side to an unforgettable triumph.

Summerbee, of course, was one of the lynchpins of that marvellous group of players assembled by Mercer and visionary coach Malcolm Allison, though injury meant he was unable to play that night in Austria.

Despite not joining City until he was almost 32 after spending most of his playing career with non-league Bath City, Book went on to become one of key talisman in our post-war history.

As captain, he led the Club to four major trophies in the space of less than three years before then enjoying success as City manager, overseeing our 1976 League Cup triumph.

And as he reflected on the anniversary milestone of our maiden European success, former England winger Summerbee – now a hugely respected Club ambassador – paid handsome tribute to the man universally known as ‘Skip’, for his inspirational role as leader of the City squad.

“As captains go, Tony Book was one of the all-time greats,” Summerbee declared.

“People talk about great captains, but Skip was something else. He really was.

“There is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the game’s best-ever leaders.

“I first played against him when he was at Bath City where he was a brick layer.

 “I also remember playing for Swindon in the FA Cup and coming up against Tony - and he kicked lumps out of me!

“Then he went to Plymouth before we signed him and brought him to City, and he became one of the greatest captains this country has ever seen.

“He was one of Joe and Malcolm’s most crucial signings.

“Obviously, people like Francis (Lee) and Colin (Bell) were so important and were unbelievable players, but Skip was our leader.

“The only player who maybe compares with him as a captain and leader is Vincent Kompany.

“Don’t forget that we had also won the league, the FA Cup and the League Cup before winning the Cup Winners’ Cup.

“And Skip was such a big, big part in all our success during that period.”

WATCH: Rare European Cup Winners' Cup celebration footage!

Summerbee’s glowing tribute is echoed by Tony Towers, one of the unsung heroes of City’s 1970 European Cup Winners’ Cup final success.

Despite being a raw teenager, the England midfielder made a big impact that night in Vienna – and he credits the inspirational presence of Book as one of the key factors in helping him slot into the side so smoothly.

“Tony was just brilliant with me and all the other younger lads,” Towers recalls.

“The camaraderie within the whole squad was fantastic and Booky was such a key part in that.

“Together with the other experienced guys, Booky really looked after us.

“He protected us on the park and helped us integrate into the squad, and he made us feel such a special part of the group.

“We were so lucky to have such a special captain.”

WATCH: European Cup Winners Cup final highlights: City 2-1 Gornik Zabrze
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