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World Cup winner Ball dies at 61


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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.

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.

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.

"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."

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R.I.P :(

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Yeah such a shame he went only at the age of 61.

I first heard the news this afternoon on the back of my local paper, he had managed Portsmouth a few times.

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