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Old 25-04-2007   #1
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An RIP thread for footy fans- RIP Alan Ball

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World Cup winner Alan Ball has died of a heart attack at the age of 61.
Ball was the youngest member of the England side that won the World Cup in 1966 and went on to win 72 caps.

The industrious midfielder started his career at Blackpool and went on to play for Everton, Arsenal and Southampton before a playing spell in America.

He also managed seven clubs over a 19-year period, including two spells with Portsmouth as well as Southampton and Manchester City.

Ball was awarded an MBE in 2000 for his services to football.

He is the second member of the side that beat West Germany 4-2 at Wembley to die. Captain Bobby Moore died of cancer in 1993.

Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 final, led the tributes to Ball.

He said: "He was the youngest member of the team and man of the match in the 1966 World Cup final.

"Socially he was always a good laugh and the 1966 team mixed a lot after then."

He added: "We are all totally devastated."

Lawrie McMenemy, who twice signed him for Southampton, told the BBC: "He was my guest at St Mary's on Saturday and I should have been playing golf with him this morning.
"We were very, very good friends.

"I was very fortunate to manage him. I wanted him badly not just for his ability but for his enthusiasm. Once his feet touched the grass he was like a performer on the stage.

"He was quality and he enabled us to get promoted and I brought him back again.

"In his early career, he was a runner, a scrapper, a fighter, a workmanlike player. At the end of his career he became the best one-touch footballer in the game.

"Alan started life as a road sweeper and ended up as the best lead violinist Southampton ever had.

"He was a great player. He had the engine and he had this peripheral vision and he was respected by every footballer in the game.

"They were a tight-knit family that World Cup team but he has gone to join Bobby Moore now.

"Alan had tragically lost wife Leslie a few years ago but he typically got on and he always kept his family close. He was a great family man.

"He was about to move up to his close pal Mick Channon and start a new part of his life that he was very excited about.

"He had an enthusiasm for life, not just football, and it spread. He was a lovely fella."

England team-mate Alan Mullery said: "I just can't believe it. His nickname was 'Bouncy', he was just such a bouncy, lively 61-year-old.

"It's such a shock. He was a loveable character, heart of gold and lived football. He just loved playing for his country.

He was a wonderful footballer to have in your side, he was so enthusiastic. He had a marvellous engine for a midfield player and had wonderful skill.

"In the World Cup final he was 5ft 10in when he started but he did so much running that day he was 5ft 5in at the end.

"When everyone else was tiring there was Bally running round the pitch."

England team-mate Jack Charlton added: "Alan was a brave little fella. Everybody loved Alan he was a lovely little lad.

"Every time I met him and spent time with him he was taking the mickey out of me, he was having a go at me. It was something we had going since 1966.

"I used to get annoyed with him and grab him by the shirt but it was only fun and we both knew it and I am going to miss Alan more than anybody because we had a tremendous relationship.

"I'm laughing now because I am thinking of Alan. I am not happy and I don't know why I'm laughing. It's just thinking of him. I've got so many good memories of Alan Ball.

"He was a tremendous player. I kicked him a few times - he kicked me back a few times. He was a lovely lad and I'm going to miss him."

Former Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson, who played alongside Ball at Highbury in the 1970s, said: "Everyone can visualise him with his red hair and squeaky voice which is still there and will always be there.

"He was such an infectious character, an extraordinary character - his love for the game was amazing. He would argue all the time, love to talk about the game - just an amazing character."

Ball was part of Everton's 1970 league championship-winning side.

Ball made his England debut in May 1965 in a 1-1 draw with Yugoslavia in Belgrade and also appeared in the 1970 World Cup finals in Mexico.

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

He missed the return game at Wembley as a result, a match that famously saw England fail to reach the 1974 finals and resulted in Ramsey's dismissal.

Ball went on to briefly captain his country but his international career was ended abruptly in 1975 when Ball was only 30.

In May 2005, Ball put his World Cup winners' medal and commemorative tournament cap up for auction to raise money for his family. They were sold for 140,000.
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