Alan Ball

Flame-haired midfield dynamo

Player Biography
Full name: Alan James Ball
Date of birth: May 12, 1945
Date of death: April 25, 2007
Clubs played for: Blackpool, Everton, Arsenal, Southampton, Philadelphia Fury, Vancouver Whitecaps, Southampton, Eastern Athletic, Bristol Rovers
Clubs managed: Blackpool, Portsmouth, Stoke, Exeter, Southampton, Manchester City
Alan Ball
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Alan Ball England World Cup squad, 1966 England 4-2 West Germany, World Cup final, July 30th 1966. 1966 World Cup Alan Ball Alan Ball Alan Ball, Howard Kendall, Everton Alan Ball England players left to right back row: Jeff Astle, Gordon Banks, Martin Peters and front row: Keith Newton and Alan Ball1969 Alan Ball Alan Ball and Harry Callerick before FA Disciplinary committee hearing at Derby. January 1970 70-0310 Alan Ball World-Cup-1970-Mexico-England-Brazil cropped Alan Ball 1970 World Cup finals Alan Ball Colin Bell England v West Germany Football Alan Ball Arsenal footballer Alan Ball with actress Pauline Peart during a team visit to Pinewood Studios February 1972 Alan Ball Alan Ball Alan Ball England Alan Ball World Cup winners Ray Wilson, George Cohen, Alan Ball, Roger Hunt and Bobby Stiles receive their MBEs in 2000 Alan Ball Alan Ball Alan Ball
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Club Career

Alan Ball enjoyed a 21-year playing career which began at Blackpool in 1962, largely thanks to his football manager dad Alan Snr calling in a favour. Ball, just 5ft 6in tall, had been overlooked by Wolves and Bolton for being too small.

He spent four years by the seaside, before his standout performances in the 1966 World Cup persuaded Everton to sign the 21-year-old in August of the same year. Alongside Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall, Ball was part of the revered 'Holy Trinity' that helped win the League title in 1969-70. Skillful, boundlessly energetic and fiercely committed, he was a firm favourite at Goodison Park, where his red hair, diminutive stature and white boots made him easily identifiable.

After five seasons for the Toffees, Ball spent five further years at Arsenal, two campaigns at Southampton and a stint across the Atlantic with Philadelphia Fury and Vancouver Whitecaps. He returned to Blackpool as player-manager before a second spell at Southampton and three months at Hong Kong outfit Eastern Athletic, where he played with Bobby Moore. He ended his 975-match playing career at Bristol Rovers in 1984.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1962-66 Blackpool 116 40
1966-71 Everton 208 66
1971-76 Arsenal 77 45
1976-78 Southampton 32 9
1978-79 Philadelphia Fury 4 5
1979-80 Vancouver Whitecaps 38 10
1980-81 Blackpool 30 5
1981-82 Southampton 63 2
1982-83 Eastern Athletic 12 0
1983-84 Bristol Rovers 17 2

International Career

Ball won 72 caps for England, scoring nine goals and captaining his country on six occasions in an international career that spanned 10 years and two World Cups. Ball, who made his international debut as a 19-year-old in 1965, will be most remembered for his tireless Man of the Match performance in the 4-2 win over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.

International Career Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1965-75 England 72 8

Managerial Career

Ball enjoyed mixed fortunes in his 19 years of management, which began with an ill-fated return to Blackpool as player-manager in February 1980. Relegation was avoided that season but relations with supporters grew strained and Ball was sacked.

Better times lay ahead at Portsmouth, where promotion to the top-flight was achieved at the third attempt but relegation and dismissal soon followed. Indifferent spells at Colchester, Stoke and Exeter ensued before Ball returned to Southampton and masterminded an escape from relegation on the final day of the 1993-94 campaign.

After failing to avoid relegation with Manchester City, Ball re-joined Portsmouth in February 1998, with Pompey seven points adrift at the foot of the Premier League. Another last-day recovery proved his final managerial act.

Key Games

England 4-2 West Germany (World Cup final, July 30, 1966)

Ball's place in the final was by no means assured beforehand but the 21-year-old rewarded manager Alf Ramsey with a performance of breathtaking dynamism overshadowed by Geoff Hurst's hat-trick. Ball's constant pressing, probing and tracking back, even in extra-time, gave England the platform for an epic 4-2 victory. He took the quick corner that led to Martin Peters' goal, set up Hurst's controversial second and was still running alongside the striker, screaming for the pass, when Hurst lashed home his third at the death.

Everton 3-1 Liverpool (First Division, August 27, 1966)

Ball had already ingratiated himself with the Everton faithful by scoring the only goal of his side's 1-0 win over Fulham on his league debut. And the fiery midfielder, fresh from winning the World Cup less than a month earlier, established himself as a firm favourite by scoring twice in the Merseyside derby two games later. There were 64,318 spectators present to witness the 3-1 home win and the start of a prolific 18-goal season for Ball.

Everton 3-2 Tottenham (First Division, March 14, 1970)

After getting himself sent off twice at a crucial stage of the season, Everton manager Harry Catterick decided to make Ball captain in the hope of reining in his famous temper. The 24-year-old gave one of his most convincing performances against Spurs at Goodison, scoring the first goal in a 3-2 win and trigger a six-match winning sequence that would win the Toffees the league title by nine clear points.

Honours

Club Competition Year
Everton League Championship 1969-70
Vancouver Whitecaps NASL Championship 1979-80
England World Cup 1966

Did You Know...?

Alan Ball's autobiography was brilliantly titled It's All About A Ball.

Ball was twice signed for British record transfer fees. Everton paid Blackpool £112,000 for him in 1966 and, five years later, Arsenal spent an unprecedented £220,000 on the 26-year-old.

Ball was awarded an MBE for services to football in 2000 along with the four other members of the 1966 World Cup-winning side yet to earn recognition: Roger Hunt, Ray Wilson, George Cohen and Nobby Stiles. Three years later Ball was also inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

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From the back pages

England 4-2 West Germany Published: August 1, 1966

World Cup final match report

Everton 1-0 Liverpool Published: March 13, 1967

FA Cup match report

England 2-2 Russia Published: December 7, 1967

World Cup qualifier match report

Alan Ball banned for five games Published: January 9, 1970

First Division news story

Belgium 1-3 England Published: February 26, 1970

World Cup qualifier match report

Belgium 1-3 England Published: February 27, 1970

Alan Ball reacts to England victory

England 5-1 Scotland Published: May 26, 1975

Home Internationals match report

Fulham 1-3 Portsmouth Published: April 9, 1985

Second Division match report

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