IT WAS the strikeforce that fired City to Premiership promotion glory 20 years ago.

Lee Mills and Robbie Blake carved a lethal partnership in Paul Jewell’s side that went up in 1999 with 40 goals between them.

Blake chipped in with 16 in a season that would enhance his reputation as one of the most gifted players outside the top flight.

READ MORE: Jewell - "We all had a point to prove"

And yet he had begun what would turn out to be a magical campaign completely out of the picture.

“I remember getting sent off at the end of the previous season at home to Portsmouth so I missed the first three games,” he recalled to the Telegraph & Argus.

“Paul Jewell had brought in Isaiah Rankin and Lee Mills for a million each and I found myself not in the team for the first month.

“We didn’t start the season particularly well but then I got my opportunity, grasped it and just went on from there. Things just clicked with Millsy.”

Blake would score in his first outing against Sheffield United at Valley Parade in mid-September and never looked back. His partnership with Mills proved the perfect fit.

“Sometimes it just clicks with somebody. I knew everything he could and couldn’t do and he was the same with me.

“We just complemented each other very well and had this purple patch that just went on for a long time.

“Everybody looked at Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips at Sunderland as the best in the Championship and probably underestimated us. We went under the radar and just got on with our jobs week in, week out.

“We had that much confidence and belief in each other and the team that we were going to create and score goals every week and that proved to be the case.”

In the week marking the anniversary of City’s greatest promotion campaign, Blake firmly believes their success was built on respect among a group of blokes that would do anything for each other.

“We had such a good team, great leaders and real characters. I’m surprised the 11 of us are not in prison but there we go!

“It’s all to do with respect. If you’ve got respect for your team-mates, then they’ll have respect for you.

“That’s the most important aspect of football, in my opinion.

“If you want a good dressing room, you must have respect for each other.

“That doesn’t mean you have to go out together to a restaurant or pub on a night. But when you turn up at Valley Parade or Apperley Bridge, we came together as a team.

“Look at what Leicester did the other year winning the Premier League. You can’t tell me that team was better individually than Man City and the rest but the togetherness took them so far.

“Build that unity and it will go a long way in football.”

Blake rattles through the names on the team sheet with a pride that has not diminished over the years. It is a period of his career that he will always cherish.

He added: “You would look around the dressing room and you just knew we were all in it together.

“Jamie Lawrence had a tremendous work-rate and the trickery of Beags (Peter Beagrie) on the left wing.

“The brilliance of Stuart McCall in the middle of the park with Gareth Whalley’s guile.

“We had the experience at the back with Jakes (Wayne Jacobs), big Mooro (Darren Moore), John Dreyer and young Andy O’Brien. Gary Walsh in goal – it was just a great team.

“We created that camaraderie and togetherness, something that’s probably been lacking at Bradford at the minute.

“You need to create that atmosphere, get the crowd off their seats by playing attacking football. We did that and it was just such a fantastic time.”