If Manchester City legend Colin Bell were playing today, he'd be one of the most sought-after midfielders in the world and would command the wages of, and comparison to, the likes of Zidane, Ronaldinho or Ballack. While his remarkable success came before football's heroes acquired celebrity status, he was every bit as talented as today's superstars and would have been a footballer of global stature. Unsurprisingly, most Manchester City fans regard Colin Bell as the club's best player of all time. He graced the midfield during their greatest years, as they lifted the League Championship, FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup-Winners, Cup. The man they nicknamed 'Nijinsky', due to his supreme athleticism, captained Bury at the age of 17 and represented England 48 times before a serious knee injury effectively ended his career at just 29. Now, for the first time, 'King Colin' has opened up. He talks about his childhood in Hesleden, County Durham; about never knowing his mother, who died while he was a baby; and of being brought up by his aunt and then his father and older sister.
He then leads us through the glory years, singles out his greatest opponents and compares the modern game with era he dominated. In Reluctant Hero, Bell covers the many highs and lows of his career, including his views on the tackle in a Manchester derby that ended his footballing dreams and could even have cost him his life. There's humour, too, as he recalls a teammate who couldn't swim being carried shoulder high through the incoming tide on Blackpool beach, and the time he sent a fellow player to reception in a hotel lift in his birthday suit. This candid and entertaining autobiography offers a unique insight into the world of a true legend who never actively sought fame. With tributes from the likes of Malcolm Allison, Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Bobby Charlton, Reluctant Hero is the life story of a footballer whose brilliance on the field demanded adulation but who was never comfortable in the spotlight; a player who truly preferred to let his feet do the talking.
Colin Bell played for Manchester City between 1966 and 1979, during which time he made just under 500 appearances and scored 152 goals. Ian Cheeseman is a reporter for BBC GMR and has been a Manchester City fan all his life. He is 45 years old and is married with two children.