Alan Ball, England 1966 World Cup winner, dies aged 61

Alan Ball, the youngest members of England's 1966 World Cup winning team, has died aged 61. He died this morning after trying to put out a bonfire. He was probably the best player on the field in that game, even though Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick, still the only player in the world ever to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final....

World Cup winner Alan Ball dies while trying to put out a bonfire

25th April 2007

England lift the World Cup in 1966, after beating West Germany in the Final. Alan Ball can be seen on the left of the picture with his arm raised. He is the second member of England's 1966 World Cup winning team to pass away. Captain Bobby Moore, who is holding the trophy aloft, died in 1993.

World Cup winner Alan Ball died trying to put out a bonfire which got out of control in his back garden.

The 61-year-old - hailed by teammates as man of the match in the 1966 World Cup final - collapsed after suffering a suspected heart attack as he threw a bucket of water over the flames.

Neighbours rang 999 when they saw the fire had spread to a compost heap and got out of control, and firefighters found the former footballer lying in the garden.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate Mr Ball but he was pronounced dead at the scene early today.

Alan challenges for the ball in the 1966 Final against West Germany, which England won 4-2.

It is believed the former Arsenal, Everton and Southampton midfielder lit the compost heap bonfire last night and then became engrossed in the Manchester United Champions League game on TV at home in Warsash, near Southampton.

His son Jimmy said: "I was talking to him last night just after the football and he was in great form. Then I got a phone call in the middle of the night. It's unbelievable and very, very sad."

Mr Ball revealed that among his father's last words to him were about a superb Paul Scholes pass during last night's Champions' League match between Manchester Utd and AC Milan which Manchester United won 3-2.

A minute's silence will be held at Chelsea's Champions League match against Liverpool tonight in honour of the former England World Cup star.

Ball, who was awarded an MBE in 2000 for his services to football, lived alone after his wife Lesley, 57, died from ovarian cancer three years ago.

Ball was due to play golf today in aid of the Wessex Heart Foundation.

His 1966 team-mate Geoff Hurst said: "I'm shocked and devastated. Alan was the youngest of the 1966 team and his wife was the youngest of the wives.

Tearful: Alan Ball's children Mandy, Jimmy and Keely announce his death this morning

"Ask any of the players who was their man of the match when we won the World Cup and they would all say Bally."

Ball is the second of the 1966 team to die. Captain Bobby Moore died of cancer in 1993.

Sir Tom Finney spoke of his shock and sadness at the death of a fellow football legend. Sir Tom, capped 76 times for England, said: "I am totally shocked, it is just unbelievable. He always seemed in the best of health and full of energy. And 61 is no age to die."

Sir Tom said Ball was a major reason England won the World Cup in 1966. He said: "He was a very, very good player. He was very similar in style to a Lampard or a Gerrard.

He gave everything he had in a game and he was one of the main movers and influences in that 1966 team."

Ball had spent the early part of yesterday evening at his local, The Jolly Farmer, in Fleet End Road. After spendin nearly two hours there he left just after 7pm to watch the football at home. Landlady Cilla O'Grady said: "We are all absolutely shocked.

"He will be so missed. He was a lovely person who was always happy to sign autographs or pose for pictures if people in the pub asked."

Speaking from Ball's large detached home today a family friend said: "Alan was burning some rubbish in a proper brazier in the afternoon. It looks like it started up again in the night and he was going out to put it out and we think he keeled over in the garden."

Emergency services dashed to the scene after a 999 call was made following reports of a man in his sixties lying in the garden of the property. A spokesman for Hampshire police said: "Police can confirm that the body of a man has been found in garden of a house in Hook Lane, Warsash, following a fire at the property.

Devoted couple: Alan Ball and his wife Lesley

"Officers were called to the scene at just before 12.15am after the body of the man, who was believed to be in his sixties, was found outside the house.

"Hampshire Fire and Rescue were already there dealing with the fire. Officers from CID have attended the scene and at this stage the death is not being treated as suspicious."

A spokesman for South Central Ambulance Service Hampshire Division said: "We had an emergency call at 12.08am. There was a man found deceased, we did not convey anyone to hospital."

A distinctive figure in the game, thanks to his small stature, high pitched voice and red hair, Ball went on to manage several clubs including Manchester City, Southampton and Portsmouth with varied success.

Alan Ball (centre) leans over Jackie Charlton's shoulder to take a look at the World Cup trophy at Wembley in 1966

However, he retired at the age of 54 after his second spell at Portsmouth and suffered several tragedies in his life - his daughter Mandy was diagnosed with cancer in the same year as his wife.

He said after the death of his wife: "But I won't marry again, because for Lesley, and for me, our marriage was forever."

In 2004, Ball controversially sold his World Cup winners medal for 140,000 and gave the money to his three children, having discussed the matter with his wife.

Friend and former manager Lawrie McMenemy told BBC Breakfast that he should have been playing golf with Ball for a heart appeal this morning.

He said of Ball: "He had an enthusiasm for life, not just for football but for life in general."

He said Ball was " much loved and respected" and described the World Cup team as a "tight-knit family".
Last edited by Blackleaf; Apr 25th, 2007 at 01:02 PM..
Sad news. Ball once played for Vancouver:

The original Vancouver Whitecaps were founded in 1974 and during the 1970s and 1980s played in the North American Soccer League (NASL). The Whitecaps achieved good success, winning the 1979 Soccer Bowl. The Whitecaps of that era included international players such as Peter Beardsley and Alan Ball, but also "home grown" stars like Bobby and Sam Lenarduzzi, Buzz Parsons, and Glen Johnson. In 1979 the team from the "Village of Vancouver" (a reference to ABC TV sportscaster Jim McKay's observation that "Vancouver must be like the deserted village right now",
#3  Top Rated Post
Great player. He, Bobby Moore, and others made British football a popular sport among Yanks back in the 60s.

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