|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 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.
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
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.
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.
|Vancouver Whitecaps||NASL Championship||1979-80|
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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