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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
World Cup winner Ball dies at 61
Alan Ball with his MBE
Ball was awarded the MBE
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 spell in the United States.

Ball, who collapsed outside his home after tackling a bonfire, also managed seven clubs, including Portsmouth, Southampton and Manchester City.

Hampshire police confirmed on Thursday that a post mortem examination found that Ball died as a result of natural causes.

His funeral will take place on Thursday 3 May at Winchester Cathedral.

Ball, who was awarded an MBE in 2000, 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.

606: COMMENT

Ball's son Jimmy said: "I was talking to him last night just after the football and he was in great form. We were talking about (Paul) Scholes' pass.

"And then I got a phone call in the middle of the night. It's unbelievable and very, very sad.

"I would like him to be known as a nice man with a passion for football. He had a big heart and was very generous."

Mr Ball said his father missed his mother Lesley terribly after she died from cancer three years ago and added: "I hope they are together now."

The couple were married for over 36 years.

The Football Association has announced that England's players will wear black armbands as a mark of respect to Ball during their first game at the new Wembley against Brazil on 1 June.

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.

ALAN BALL FACTFILE
Born: Farnworth, Lancashire 12/05/1945
Playing career: Played for Blackpool, Everton, Arsenal, Southampton, Philadelphia Fury, Vancouver Whitecaps (player manager), Blackpool (player manager), Southampton, Eastern (Hong Kong), Bristol Rovers
Made 975 appearances in a 21-year career
Managerial career: Portsmouth, Colchester, Stoke, Exeter, Southampton, Manchester City, Portsmouth
Honours: World Cup (1966), league title (1970)

"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.

"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.

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

"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."

Sir Bobby Charlton , his midfield partner in 1966, said: "He was probably the best player that day and if it had not been for his impact the result could have been totally different.

It is very sad news which has hit everyone hard. He was a terrific character who was always bubbly and jolly and a football man through and through.

Leon Crouch, acting chairman of Southampton

"He did not appear to have a nerve in his body, and he was an inspiration to us all.

"Alan was always bright and bubbly in everything he did as a player. He went about his work with great enthusiasm and gusto and he always had a smile on his face.

"He was a sensational little player with great touch and great vision. He had great close control and although he wasn't a fast player he didn't need to be. He could see things clearly and always made the right decisions.

"He was the youngest member of our squad and we were all looking forward to our latest reunion in two weeks. I am very sad and shocked by the news. Alan will be badly missed."

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."

Alan Ball with the World Cup trophy in 1966
Ball was only 21 when England won the World Cup
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."

Kevin Keegan, who played with him at Southampton, said: "He was a great player but I think as a person he was even greater

"I played with him when he was 38, I'd already been European Footballer of the Year twice but he could teach me things that I never even thought about."

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."

Former Blackpool and England team-mate Jimmy Armfield said: "It is devastating news.

"He had energy, ambition, drive and passion - and if he was not passionate about something, he didn't do it."

Howard Kendall, who combined with Ball and Colin Harvey to form the 'holy trinity' at Everton, said: "We arrived at Everton in the same season and hit it off immediately.

"He was such a bubbly character, it was really Alan who made the partnership with me and Colin work as well as it did.

"This is a terrible loss for the club and for football. I'm devastated by the news, I have lost a friend and team-mate."

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

He is survived by his son, Jimmy, and two daughters, Mandy and Keeley.

SEE ALSO
Alan Ball remembered
25 Apr 07 |  Football
Alan Ball's life in pictures
25 Apr 07 |  Football
World Cup medal sold for 164,800
19 May 05 |  England
World Cup 1966 flashback
31 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006


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