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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
Childhood memories of Alan Ball
John Foster grew up in Shropshire with England World Cup winner Alan Ball, who has died aged 61.

Here he reminisces about his childhood friend, who is still remembered in Oswestry as a lad who spent all day, almost every day, kicking a football around with his mates.

John Foster
John Foster played football with Alan Ball on this stretch of grass
Alan was a very determined boy. His father, who was also called Alan Ball and was player manager of Oswestry Football Club, really pushed him.

We used to play football together as 10 year olds. It was coats down for goals, about 30-a-side and you knew Alan was something special because you just couldn't get the ball off him, although there were 30 chasing him, the ball was stuck to his foot.

At Oswestry Boys High School, the teachers would say to us 'What are you going to do when you leave school?', and of course, you haven't got a clue really, so you'd say something that might impress them.

But Alan would say 'I'm going to be a professional footballer and I'm going to play for England' and it was 'whack', 'set your sights on something realistic lad'.

And I often wondered what those teachers thought when he ran out at Wembley in 1966 and lifted the World Cup up.

I really couldn't believe it when I was told he'd died
I've got really happy memories of Alan, we spent a lot of our childhood together. Not just football, although we were both really interested in football, there was the fishing and we had paper rounds in the same area of Oswestry - the Oak Drive area.

But we were also members of Oswestry Parish Church Choir and the choir had a football team as well.

We were playing one day and Alan's dad came to watch him, and young Alan said to me 'Dad's going to give me sixpence for every goal I score'.

Alan Ball wins the World Cup in 1966
Alan Ball went on to win the World Cup in 1966

Needless to say, that day Alan scored 15 goals, which in old money was seven and six, and his dad gave him three half crowns.

It's a memory that's remained in my mind and will stay there for ever I expect - Alan with three large half crowns in his hand.

I remember the World Cup final of 1966 with great pride - that somebody we'd played football with on this patch of grass here as kids was running out onto the greatest arena in the world, in the greatest cup in the world and he was a cup winner.

I really couldn't believe it when I was told he'd died. We'd only been talking about him, as you do, about half an hour before and the next thing someone came in and said 'He's dead'. I couldn't believe it. It's very sad.

John Foster remembers no-one could tackle Alan Ball

World Cup winner Ball dies at 61
25 Apr 07 |  Football
Alan Ball remembered
25 Apr 07 |  Football
Alan Ball's life in pictures
25 Apr 07 |  Football

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