Lee started his professional career with Bolton Wanderers. Manchester City manager Joe Mercer signed him for a club record transfer fee of £60,000 in 1967. He made his Manchester City debut in a 2–0 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Maine Road, and scored his first Manchester City goal the following week at Fulham. In his first season at the club, he scored 16 League goals in 31 appearances, playing a crucial role in City's push for the 1967–68 League Championship; Mercer described him as "the final piece of the jigsaw". The title was decided on the final day of the season, City requiring a win at Newcastle United. City won the match 4–3, Lee scoring one of the goals, and were crowned champions. The following season Lee was part of the Manchester City team which won the 1969 FA Cup.In the 1969–70 season, Lee was Manchester City's top scorer, an achievement he would subsequently match in each of the next four seasons. His tally that season included one of the most important goals of his career, a penalty in the final of the European Cup Winners' Cup.

Lee represented England at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and was the first English player ever to receive a card in a World Cup.

In the 1971–72 season, Lee set a British record for the number of penalties scored in a season, with 15 of his 35 goals scored from the penalty spot. Many of the penalties resulted from fouls on Lee, earning him the nickname Lee One Pen. Some journalists, holding the opinion that Lee gained a number of penalties by diving, used the name Lee Won Pen instead. Lee's name is often cited in debates about diving in football; referees' chief Keith Hackett described him as a player who "had a reputation of falling down easily".

Lee left Manchester City in 1974, joining Derby County. For the second time in his career, Lee joined a team viewed as contenders for that season's league title. He was upset at Manchester City's decision to sell him and marked his first match against his former club by scoring the winning goal for Derby. Lee scored twelve league goals that season, Derby winning their second League title and Lee the second championship medal of his career. On 1 November 1975, Lee had a confrontation with Leeds United defender Norman Hunter, which gained a level of infamy after it was screened on Match of the Day. In the first half of the game, the referee adjudged that Hunter had fouled Lee in the Leeds penalty area, and awarded Derby a penalty. Charlie George, and not Lee, took the penalty kick, and scored. In the second half, Lee and Hunter were seen to be exchanging punches in an off-the-ball incident. The referee stopped the game and took both players' names, but it was not immediately clear if he had sent off either or both of them. However, as the two men walked away they began fighting again. After intervention by both sets of players, Hunter left the pitch and Lee was restrained and ushered off the field by a club official.

In 2003, the incident was named by The Observer as sport's most spectacular dismissal. Lee also held the record for the most goals in Manchester derbies, scoring 10 goals in all against Manchester United, a tally that equalled Joe Hayes' record. This record was later beaten by Wayne Rooney who scored his 11th goal in a Manchester derby on 22 September 2013.

After retiring from football, Lee ran a successful toilet roll business, F.H. Lee Ltd, which made him a millionaire. In 1994, he became the major shareholder and chairman of Manchester City, but stepped down four years later.

Lee Won Pen

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