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ALAN BALL

Born 12 May 1945, Died 25 April 2007

 

James Alan Ball, the youngest member of England's World Cup-winning side, died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 61 after trying to put out a bonfire in his garden.  Ball won 72 caps for his country in a 10-year England career and is the second member of the 1966 side to pass away after the captain Bobby Moore in 1993.

He was born in 1945 into a working-class, respectable Lancashire family, the son of a journeyman professional footballer - also called Alan - who was a tremendous influence on his son.

Quickly spotting that his son had real potential, he gave the young Alan intensive training.

Every night, Ball did his homework with his dad at their home near Bolton - an hour's training with a ball. But clubs turned him down because he was too small and suggested he became a jockey.

"I promised my father after I'd been rejected by Wolves and Bolton - I was 16 - 'Dad, I will play for England before I am 20.' And I played for England when I was 19 and about 360 days."

Before the 1966 World Cup, Ball excitedly told his father, who was renowned for never giving him any praise, that he had been selected for the England squad.   His father replied: "Forget the squad, I'll only be happy when you get into the team!"

Alan Ball was, for many, man of the match, in the World Cup Final against West Germany.  He was full of running, and it was his right-wing cross 10 minutes into extra time that led to the most controversial goal in World Cup history.

Ball started his career with Blackpool before moving to Everton in August 1966 for a British record transfer fee of 110,000. The red-haired Ball had a tenacious temperament and was part of the midfield trio, with Howard Kendall and Colin Harvey, that helped Everton to the League championship in 1969-70. Eighteen months later, Ball was sold to Arsenal for 220,000.

His departure came as a major surprise to Everton fans. Only nine months earlier the manager Harry Catterick, who valued Ball at 1m, said that he would not sell him. 

Ball, who had a penchant for white boots, combined a fierce determination to win with a fine touch on the ball and an ability to find the net in important games. He spent five years at Arsenal before joining Southampton where he had two spells, interrupted by a brief period in North American soccer, before finishing his playing career at Bristol Rovers in 1983.  

In 1973, he became only the second England player to be sent off in a full international during a vital World Cup qualifier in Poland.

Ball then enjoyed a varied managerial career, taking charge of Portsmouth (twice), Manchester City, Southampton, Blackpool, Stoke City and Exeter. He was awarded an MBE in 2000 for his services to football.