In the last decade or so, Manchester City has established themselves as a powerhouse of both English and European football. A mixture of financial investment and quality coaching by various head coaches has taken the Citizens to the pinnacle of the game.
However, City has always had quality attacking players, no matter where they were in the English pyramid. Those forwards were prolific in front of goal and made a significant mark on the club’s history. Here are City’s top-ten goalscorers of all time:
Sergio Aguero (260 goals in 389 appearances)
The diminutive Argentinian is a modern-day Manchester City legend and also the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with 260 goals in a decade with the Citizens. Aguero played a massive role in City becoming the footballing force they are today.
The forward’s goals helped guide City to five Premier League titles, four League Cups and a FA Cup final, amongst other silverware. His most notable goal for City came in stoppage-time of a 3-2 win over QPR on the last day of season 2011/12, as the forward’s effort won City their first title of the Premier League era.
Among his individual achievements with City was winning the Premier League Golden Boot in season 2014/15. He also won City Player of the Year in 2011–12 and 2014–15.
Erik Brook (177 goals in 494 appearances)
The outside left represented City for 12 years from 1928 to 1940. He would wander into a more central role, which may have contributed to his excellent strike rate from his wide position. Brook was City’s record goalscorer for an incredible 76 years before Aguero took his crown.
Brook was superbly consistent in front of goal for the Citizens, getting into double figures for goals in 11 straight campaigns. Unfortunately for Brook, he had to retire from the game in 1940 after a road traffic accident.
Tommy Johnson (166 goals in 354 appearances)
Johnson is a player from a similar era as Brook, who appeared for City from 1919-1930. The Cumbrian forward swiftly opened his goalscoring account for the Citizens. However, it took him another three seasons to really cement his place in the City starting line-up.
Once he did, there was no stopping Johnson, as he was prolific in many seasons. In fact, the forward scored 38 goals league goals in season 1928–29, which is still a City record goal tally for a single league campaign.
In 1977 Johnson had a street named after him near the club’s old stadium Maine Road. Tommy Johnson Walk is still in existence, even if the famous old ground has long been demolished.
Colin Bell (153 goals in 501 appearances)
Bell is renowned as one of the greatest ever City players. The brilliant Bell signed for City in 1966 from Bury for £45,000. He went on to become an integral part of one of the Citizens’ most successful teams.
Bell helped City win the Second Division title in season 1965/66 before the First Division crown in 1968. City also won the FA Cup in 1969 before winning the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1970 with the midfielder at the heart of their efforts.
Despite being a midfielder, in his 13 seasons playing for City, Bell only failed to hit the ten-goal mark three times. His most prolific goalscoring campaign came in season 1974/75 when he scored 15 goals in 42 league appearances.
Joe Hayes (152 goals in 364 appearances)
The inside forward played for City for 12 years, from 1953-1965, scoring a highly respectable 152 goals. Hayes was a goal-poacher who scored in City’s 1956 FA Cup final 3-1 victory over Birmingham City, he had also appeared in the final a year before as a teenager. The 56’ triumph was his only silverware in a City shirt. He was a regular for the Citizens in the 1950s and early 1960s. However, a knee injury in 1963 meant he was never the same player again, and he was sold in 1965 to Barnsley.
Billy Meredith (152 goals in 394 appearances)
The Welshman enjoyed two spells with City from 1894-1905 and 1921-1924 and is a true City legend who was considered one of the best players of his generation. Meredith helped City win promotion from the Second Division in season 1898/99, scoring 29 goals in 32 league appearances. Meredith continued to score goals at a decent rate, but the 1898/99 season remained his most prolific.
He also won the FA Cup with City in 1904. His only First Division titles came while playing for City rivals Manchester United in 1907–08 and 1910–11. However, he finished his playing career with three years at City after 14 years at United, five of which came during the First World War.
Unfortunately, he was in his late forties when he returned to the club. He made just 28 league appearances in three seasons before retiring at the age of 49.
Francis Lee (148 goals in 330 appearances)
Nicknamed ‘the Cannonball Kid’ Lee arrived at City in 1967 from Bolton Wanderers for a fee of £60,000. He would go on to become a City stalwart. Lee was part of the City team that won the First Division title in 1968 and the FA Cup the following year.
On an individual basis, the mercurial forward won 15 penalties in one First Division campaign, which is still a top-flight record. The forward is also the second-highest scorer in Manchester derby history, scoring ten times in the local skirmishes with United. Only United’s Wayne Rooney has scored more Manchester derby goals than Lee, having scored 11 times.
After he retired from playing, Lee had an ill-fated spell as City chairman, and after leaving his role as chairman, he retained a role as club director.
Tommy Browell (139 goals in 247 appearances)
Browell won the First Division title with Everton before joining City in 1913 for a fee of £1,780. The forward went on to represent City for 13 seasons, proving to be prolific throughout his career with the club, despite his career being interrupted by the breakout of World War One.
Unfortunately for Browell, his time at City was one of near misses when it came to silverware. Despite Browell scoring a career-best 31 goals in season 1920-21, City finished as runners-up in the First Division. City also made the FA Cup final in 1926, with Browell scoring seven goals in the run. However, the men from Manchester suffered a 1-0 defeat against Bolton Wanderers in the final.
Fred Tilson (132 goals in 273 appearances)
Despite suffering several injuries throughout his City career, Tilson came close to a goal every two games in his time in Manchester. Tilson arrived alongside Eric Brook from Barnsley in a double deal that cost City £6,000 in 1928.
Injury problems hampered Tilson’s early City career, and it wasn’t until season 1932/33 that he really got going in front of goal. For the next six seasons, the forward got into double figures in goals.
He helped City to promotion to the First Division in his first season with the club. Tilson also played a crucial role in City’s 1934 FA Cup final win over Portsmouth, as the forward scored a brace in a 2-1 victory.
City had suffered defeat in the previous year’s final, but Tilson was injured and missed the game. Many say that if Tilson hadn’t had such terrible luck with injuries, he would have been far higher on our list.
Billie Gillespie (132 goals in 231 appearances)
Gillespie starred for City alongside the great Billy Meredith, who was a handy supply line for a forward. The forward helped the Citizens to win two English titles and the FA Cup.
He joined the Citizens from Lincoln City in 1897 and soon became a hit with the fans, enjoying his most productive season in front of goal in season 1902–03, when he scored an impressive 30 goals in 33 league appearances. He followed that up by scoring 21 goals the following season before quitting football and emigrating to South Africa in 1905.