Alan Ball
Full nameAlan James Ball
NationalityEng England
Caps (goals)72 (8)
Rovers apps (goals)a17 (2)
Date of birth12 May 1945
in Farnworth, Lancashire
Date of death25 April 2007
in Warsash, Hampshire
Height5 ft 6 in
January 1983 from Eastern AA

Senior clubsTeams managed
Ashton United
Philadelphia Fury
Vancouver Whitecaps
Floreat Athena
Eastern AA
Bristol Rovers
Philadelphia Fury
Stoke City
Exeter City
Manchester City
a League appearances and goals only
Last updated by WikiaBot on 20/06/2013

Alan Ball is the most capped England player and the only World Cup winner ever to play for Bristol Rovers. The midfielder was signed for Rovers by manager Bobby Gould at the end of a long and distinguished playing career that saw him play 72 times for his country, before finally hanging up his boots in 1983 having scored twice in 17 league games for The Pirates.

Playing careerEdit

Club careerEdit

Alan began his senior footballing career in 1960, playing non-league football for Ashton United in Manchester, who were competing in the Lancashire Combination at the time. He was also playing youth team football for Wolverhampton Wanderers at this point, but Wolves opted not to retain his services when he left school. After an unsuccessful trial with Bolton Wanderers he was brought into the Blackpool youth setup in 1961, and he made his breakthrough into their first team a year later, in a First Division match against Liverpool at Anfield on 18 August 1962.

He played a total of 116 league games for Blackpool, scoring 40 goals, in the four years leading up to the 1966 World Cup. His performances in England's successful run in the tournament put him high on the wish list of several managers in the First Division, and it was Everton who finally secured his services, paying a £112,000 transfer fee to Blackpool to bring him to Goodison Park in August 1966. He spent just over five years on Merseyside, playing 208 league games and scoring 66 times.

In December 1971 he was signed by Arsenal for a fee of £220,000 and spent what many would consider the prime of his career there, playing for the Gunners between the ages of 26 and 31 and racking up a further 177 league games and 45 goals to his career total. Towards the end of his time with Arsenal he was loaned out to South African side Hellenic, for whom he played four times, before signing for Southampton in 1976.

Alan Ball-Jan Van Der Veen

Ball playing in the 1979 Soccer Bowl for the Vancouver Whitecaps

A portion of his time with the Saints was spent on loan with the Philadelphia Fury in the North American Soccer League, with him spending the 1978 and 1979 seasons in the United States. In spite of this he still made 132 league appearances for Southampton and scored nine goals before returning to the NASL with Canadian side the Vancouver Whitecaps in June 1979. After a successful spell in British Columbia, during which time he picked up the Most Valuable Player award at the 1979 Soccer Bowl in New Jersey, he returned to Blackpool to take on the role of player-manager. It was an ill-fated move however, and having spent a year in charge of the Seasiders from February 1980 until February 1981 he was relieved of his duties.

Now at the tail end of his career, Ball moved back to the south coast of England for a second spell with Southampton. He played 63 times in the league and scored twice during this 18-month stint, during which he was sent on a brief loan to Australian club Floreat Athena. He spent three months in Hong Kong playing for Eastern AA between October 1982 and January '83 and concluded his playing career with Bristol Rovers that summer.


Short video of the opening minutes of the Rochester Lancers at the Philadelphia Fury in 1978, a game in which Ball played.

1978 NASL Rochester Lancers at Philadelphia Fury02:28

1978 NASL Rochester Lancers at Philadelphia Fury

International careerEdit

When Alan took the field for his England debut on 9 May 1965, three days before his 20th birthday, it marked the beginning of a long and successful international career that would earn him the biggest prize in world football, a World Cup winners' medal.

His first cap came in a 1–1 friendly draw with Yuguslavia in Belgrade on 9 May 1965, and friendlies against West Germany and Sweden both followed within a week of his debut. He played in three more friendlies over the following months before finally playing his first competitive game on 2 April 1966, a 4–3 victory over Scotland at Hampden Park in the Home Championship.

After three more friendlies in late June and early July 1976 he made his first appearance in a World Cup match when he played in England's opening group game of the 1966 tournament against Uruguay. He found himself dropped for the remaining two matches in the pool stage however, but was restored to the lineup for all three of knockout games, including the final.

In spite of his lengthy international career, which saw him win 72 caps over a 10-year period he only played a single game in the finals of the European Championship, when he lined up against Yugoslavia in June 1968 in Florence, Italy. His only other major tournament finals were in the 1970 World Cup, when he took part in all four of England's games.

Ball has the dubious honour of being only the second player ever to be sent off while representing England, when he was dismissed for violent conduct against Polish player Lesław Ćmikiewicz in a World Cup qualifier in June 1973. His international career ended twelve days after his 30th birthday, his final game a 5–1 win over Scotland at Wembley in the Home Championship.

International appearancesEdit

N.B. England's score is always given first. (Source:
9 May 1965Yug Yugoslavia1–1Stadion Crvena Zvezda, BelgradeFriendly
12 May 1965Ger West Germany1–0Franken Stadion, NurenbergFriendly
16 May 1965Swe Sweden2–1Ullevi Stadion, GothenburgFriendly
8 December 1965Esp (1945-1977) Spain2–0Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, MadridFriendly
5 January 1966Pol Poland1–1Goodison Park, LiverpoolFriendly
23 February 1966Ger West Germany1–0Wembley StadiumFriendly
2 April 1966Sco Scotland4–3Hampden Park, GlasgowHome Championship
26 June 1966Fin Finland3–0Olympiastadion, HelsinkiFriendly
3 July 1966Den Denmark2–0Idrætsparken, CopenhagenFriendly
5 July 1966Pol Poland1–0Stadion Slaski, ChorzowFriendly
11 July 1966Uru Uruguay1–1Wembley StadiumWorld Cup finals
23 July 1966Arg Argentina1–0Wembley StadiumWorld Cup finals
26 July 1966Por Portugal2–1Wembley StadiumWorld Cup finals
30 July 1966Ger West Germany4–2Wembley StadiumWorld Cup finals
20 October 1966Nir Northern Ireland2–0Windsor Park, BelfastEuro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
2 November 1966Cze Czechoslovakia0–0Wembley StadiumFriendly
16 November 1966Wal Wales5–1Wembley StadiumEuro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
15 April 1967Sco Scotland2–3Wembley StadiumEuro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
24 May 1967Esp (1945-1977) Spain2–0Wembley StadiumFriendly
27 May 1967Aut Austria1–0Ernst-Happel-Stadion, ViennaFriendly
21 October 1967Wal Wales3–0Ninian Park, CardiffEuro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
6 December 1967Urs Soviet Union2–2Wembley StadiumFriendly
24 February 1968Sco Scotland1–1Hampden Park, GlasgowEuro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
3 April 1968Esp (1945-1977) Spain1–0Wembley StadiumEuro Champs qualifier
8 May 1968Esp (1945-1977) Spain2–1Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, MadridEuro Champs qualifier
1 June 1968Ger West Germany0–1Niedersachsenstadion, HanoverFriendly
5 June 1968Yug Yugoslavia0–1Stadio Comunale, FlorenceEuro Champs finals
6 November 1968Rou (1965-1989) Romania0–0Stadionul 23 August, BucharestFriendly
15 January 1969Rou (1965-1989) Romania1–1Wembley StadiumFriendly
3 May 1969Nir Northern Ireland3–1Windsor Park, BelfastHome Championship
7 May 1969Wal Wales2–1Wembley StadiumHome Championship
10 May 1969Sco Scotland4–1Wembley StadiumHome Championship
1 June 1969Mex Mexico0–0Estadio Azteca, Mexico CityFriendly
8 June 1969Uru Uruguay2–1Estadio Centenario, MontevideoFriendly
12 June 1969Bra (1968-1992) Brazil1–2Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de JaneiroFriendly
10 December 1969Por Portugal1–0Wembley StadiumFriendly
25 February 1970Bel Belgium3–1Parc Astrid, BrusselsFriendly
18 April 1970Wal Wales1–1Ninian Park, CardiffHome Championship
25 April 1970Sco Scotland0–0Hampden Park, GlasgowHome Championship
20 May 1970Col Colombia4–0El Campín, BogotaFriendly
24 May 1970Ecu Ecuador2–0Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa, QuitoFriendly
2 June 1970Rou (1965-1989) Romania1–0Estádio Jalisco, GuadalajaraWorld Cup finals
7 June 1970Bra (1968-1992) Brazil0–1Estádio Jalisco, GuadalajaraWorld Cup finals
11 June 1970Cze Czechoslovakia1–0Estádio Jalisco, GuadalajaraWorld Cup finals
14 June 1970Ger West Germany2–3Estadio Nou Camp, LeónWorld Cup finals
25 November 1970Gdr East Germany3–1Wembley StadiumFriendly
3 February 1971Mlt Malta1–0Empire Stadium, GziraEuro Champs qualifier
21 April 1971Gre Greece3–0Wembley StadiumEuro Champs qualifier
12 May 1971Mlt Malta5–0Wembley StadiumEuro Champs qualifier
15 May 1971Nir Northern Ireland1–0Windsor Park, BelfastHome Championship
22 May 1971Sco Scotland3–1Wembley StadiumHome Championship
9 November 1971Sui Switzerland1–1Wembley StadiumEuro Champs qualifier
30 November 1971Gre Greece2–0Karaïskákis Stadio, AthensEuro Champs qualifier
29 April 1972Ger West Germany1–3Wembley StadiumEuro Champs qualifier
13 May 1972Ger West Germany0–0Olympiastadion, BerlinEuro Champs qualifier
27 May 1972Sco Scotland1–0Hampden Park, GlasgowHome Championship
11 October 1972Yug Yugoslavia1–1Wembley StadiumFriendly
15 November 1972Wal Wales1–0Ninian Park, CardiffWorld Cup qualifier
21 January 1973Wal Wales1–1Wembley StadiumWorld Cup qualifier
14 February 1973Sco Scotland5–0Hampden Park, GlasgowFriendly
12 May 1973Nir Northern Ireland2–1Goodison Park, LiverpoolHome Championship
15 May 1973Wal Wales3–0Wembley StadiumHome Championship
19 May 1973Sco Scotland1–0Wembley StadiumHome Championship
27 May 1973Cze Czechoslovakia1–1Letná Stadion, PragueFriendly
6 June 1973Pol Poland0–2Stadion Slaski, ChorzowWorld Cup qualifier
3 April 1974Por Portugal0–0Estádio da Luz, LisbonFriendly
12 March 1975Ger West Germany2–0Wembley StadiumFriendly
16 April 1975Cyp Cyprus5–0Wembley StadiumEuro Champs qualifier
11 May 1975Cyp Cyprus1–0Tsirion Stadium, LimassolEuro Champs qualifier
17 May 1975Nir Northern Ireland0–0Windsor Park, BelfastHome Championship
21 May 1975Wal Wales2–2Wembley StadiumHome Championship
24 May 1975Sco Scotland5–1Wembley StadiumHome Championship

Managerial career and later lifeEdit

Alan's first taste of management came in June 1978 while he was playing on loan at the Philadelphia Fury. The Fury's coach Richard Dinnis was fired, and Ball stepped in to take charge of the team on a temporary basis just a month after arriving there as a player. He clearly enjoyed the experience, because immidiately following his sojourn in North America he took charge of Blackpool, taking on the role of player-manager in February 1980.

He lasted only a year at Blackpool and when he was relieved of his duties in February 1981 he took a break from management, continuing his playing career until hanging up his boots in 1983. His next spell in the hot seat came when he was appointed as boss of Portsmouth in May 1984 and it was here that he had his first taste of real success. Pompey finished near the top of the Second Division in each of his first two seasons in charge, and it was third time lucky when he won promotion to the top flight in 1987. Unfortunately for him the team struggled in the First Division and were relegated after a single year, and when they continued to perform badly the following season Alan was relieved of his duties.

His employment at Portsmouth had ended in January 1989, and it would be just a month before Alan found work again, this time as assistant boss to Jock Wallace at Colchester United. Eight months later he was on the move again when he became Mick Mill's assistant at Stoke City. Mills was sacked just two weeks after Ball's appointment and for the second time in his career he found himself promoted to manager from within the club. Alan also found himself relieved of his duties little more than a year later, in February 1991, and spent the next five months out of work.

Alan Ball

Alan in 2004, aged 59

Exeter City were the next team to offer him the top job, in July 1991, and although his record there wasn't particularly impressive it was enough for him to be appointed as Southampton's manager in January 1994. When he took over the Saints were mired in the relegation zone, and for a while they looked likely to lose their place in the top flight, but they managed to avoid the drop on the final day of the 1993–94 season, and even managed to finish in the top half of the table the following year. These results led to him being taken on by Manchester City, where his friend and former teammate Francis Lee was Chairman. The move left a bad taste in the mouth of some Southampton fans, who felt he had walked out on them.

Alan's impact at City was not a positive one, and they ended up being relegated out of the Premier League at the end of his first season in charge. Although the club decided against sacking him for taking them down, Alan resigned just three games into his second season with them. The damage caused to his reputation as a manager during this spell led to him being out of work for the next 18 months.

He made his return to league management with Portsmouth in February 1998. The club were flirting dangerously with the relegation places in Division One, but as he did at Southampton, he managed to take them to safety by the end of the season. His contract was eventually terminated in December 1999, leading him to retire from the game.

Ball died on 25 April 2007 after having suffered a heart attack while attempting to extinguish a fire in his garden. A bonfire which he had started had got out of control and spread to a nearby fence.

Managerial statsEdit

Team Nation From To Record
Philadelphia Fury Usa United States June 1978 August 1978 ?????
Blackpool Eng England 1 July 1980 28 February 1981 34 7 10 17 20.59
Portsmouth Eng England 11 May 1984 17 January 1989 222 94 58 70 42.34
Stoke City Eng England 7 November 1989 23 February 1991 62 17 21 24 27.42
Exeter City Eng England 6 August 1991 20 January 1994 135 36 43 56 26.67
Southampton Eng England 21 January 1994 2 July 1995 67 22 24 21 32.84
Manchester City Eng England 3 July 1995 27 August 1996 49 13 14 22 26.53
Portsmouth Eng England 26 January 1998 9 December 1999 97 28 26 43 28.87
Total a 666 217 196 253 32.58

a Total number of games managed in England.

Tribute videoEdit

Posted to YouTube by the official Alan Ball website shortly after his death.

Official AlanBallSccer03:09

Official "Alan Ball"

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