Born on 12th of May 1945
Died on 25th of April 2007
Alan Ball was an English professional football manager and former player who was the youngest member of England's 1966 World Cup winning team. Despite being the baby of the group he showed maturity in his football enough to earn him the Man of the Match award for his performance in the final.
The young Ball was passed over by Wolves, with whom he had played as a youth, and also by Bolton Wanderers who thought he was too small. Instead he went to play for Blackpool, where his industrious midfield work got him noticed by then England manager Alf Ramsey. Sir Alf gave him his first game for England in May 1965, a year before the World Cup was to be staged in England. At the World Cup the youthful Ball proved to be a real bonus in the England side, full of running and possessing seemingly endless energy. It was this that enabled him to keep going whilst others around him were flagging badly as the final went into extra time. Ball's energetic contribution was a major factor in the victory and earned him probably the most prized Man of the Match award in English international football history.
This contribution to England's glory didn't go unnoticed at Everton FC, who signed Ball after the World Cup. He played five years at Goodison Park, all the time turning out regularly for England. In 1971 he was signed to Arsenal, where he enjoyed another five great years. His international career lasted until 1975 and he appeared 72 times for England within his 10 year spell. For his last six games, none of which England lost, he was made captain. Unfortunately, he subsequently picked up an injury and was never called up for international duty again.
After leaving Arsenal Ball played for several clubs including Southampton where he enjoyed two separate spells. He also played for the Vancouver Whitecaps, whom he helped to the North American Soccer League title in 1979.
Ball had several managerial jobs with varying degrees of success but is remembered fondly by fans of Portsmouth, whom he had guided briefly back to top flight football. He was also successful with Southampton but his departure to Manchester City was not popular with the Saints fans.
In 2000, Ball and four other members of the 1966 World Cup winning team were awarded the MBE. Alan Ball died in Warsash, Hampshire in April 2007. News of his death was received with great sadness throughout the football world.
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