England Football Legend Alan Ball Dies, Aged 61
England legend, and football boot pioneer Alan Ball has died at the age of 61. The legendary 1966 World Cup Winner passed away last night after a suspected heart attack in news that has sent shock-waves through the footballing world.
Alan hailed from Lancashire, which gave him his first football club, Blackpool in 1962. Ball remained there until 1966, where his profile and proficiency bought him to household attention due to his performances within the World Cup winning team. His raised profile led Everton to break the British transfer record to tempt him away from Blackpool for £110,000 in August 1966. Having won the league championship with Everton in 1970, Arsenal broke the transfer record once again in 1972, paying Everton £220,000 for the 26 year old Ball.
By the mid 1970’s Ball had gained 72 England caps, also skippering the side in 5-1 win against Scotland at Wembley. Ball then moved from Arsenal to Southampton for £60,000 in December 1976 and after a spell in the fledgling North American Soccer League, returned home as player-manager of Blackpool. This ended with a move to Southampton and then Bristol Rovers, where he ended his playing career in 1983 after playing 975 games over 21 years.
The eighties and nineties saw Alan Ball in a variety of clubs in a rather less successful career than his footballing achievements. His clubs included Stoke, Exeter, Southampton, Manchester City and Portsmouth where he ended his managerial career in 1999. Ball was awarded the MBE in 2000.
Alan Ball will be remembered most fondly as the youngest of the 1966 World Cup winners, and a player whose drive, determination and love of the game endeared him to a nation that today mourns the loss of a footballing great. For football boot fans, Alan Ball will remain a legend for his donning of the first white football boots in the 1970-71 season which marked a turning point in the design and style of football boots.