|Full name||Alan James Ball|
|Caps (goals)||72 (8)|
|Rovers apps (goals)a||17 (2)|
|Date of birth||12 May 1945|
in Farnworth, Lancashire
|Date of death||25 April 2007|
in Warsash, Hampshire
|Height||5 ft 6 in|
|January 1983 from Eastern AA
|Senior clubs||Teams managed|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
- N.B. England's score is always given first. (Source: englandstats.com)
|9 May 1965||Yugoslavia||1–1||Stadion Crvena Zvezda, Belgrade||Friendly|
|12 May 1965||West Germany||1–0||Franken Stadion, Nurenberg||Friendly|
|16 May 1965||Sweden||2–1||Ullevi Stadion, Gothenburg||Friendly|
|8 December 1965||Spain||2–0||Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid||Friendly|
|5 January 1966||Poland||1–1||Goodison Park, Liverpool||Friendly|
|23 February 1966||West Germany||1–0||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|2 April 1966||Scotland||4–3||Hampden Park, Glasgow||Home Championship|
|26 June 1966||Finland||3–0||Olympiastadion, Helsinki||Friendly|
|3 July 1966||Denmark||2–0||Idrætsparken, Copenhagen||Friendly|
|5 July 1966||Poland||1–0||Stadion Slaski, Chorzow||Friendly|
|11 July 1966||Uruguay||1–1||Wembley Stadium||World Cup finals|
|23 July 1966||Argentina||1–0||Wembley Stadium||World Cup finals|
|26 July 1966||Portugal||2–1||Wembley Stadium||World Cup finals|
|30 July 1966||West Germany||4–2||Wembley Stadium||World Cup finals|
|20 October 1966||Northern Ireland||2–0||Windsor Park, Belfast||Euro Champs qualifier|
|2 November 1966||Czechoslovakia||0–0||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|16 November 1966||Wales||5–1||Wembley Stadium||Euro Champs qualifier|
|15 April 1967||Scotland||2–3||Wembley Stadium||Euro Champs qualifier|
|24 May 1967||Spain||2–0||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|27 May 1967||Austria||1–0||Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna||Friendly|
|21 October 1967||Wales||3–0||Ninian Park, Cardiff||Euro Champs qualifier|
|6 December 1967||Soviet Union||2–2||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|24 February 1968||Scotland||1–1||Hampden Park, Glasgow||Euro Champs qualifier|
|3 April 1968||Spain||1–0||Wembley Stadium||Euro Champs qualifier|
|8 May 1968||Spain||2–1||Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid||Euro Champs qualifier|
|1 June 1968||West Germany||0–1||Niedersachsenstadion, Hanover||Friendly|
|5 June 1968||Yugoslavia||0–1||Stadio Comunale, Florence||Euro Champs finals|
|6 November 1968||Romania||0–0||Stadionul 23 August, Bucharest||Friendly|
|15 January 1969||Romania||1–1||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|3 May 1969||Northern Ireland||3–1||Windsor Park, Belfast||Home Championship|
|7 May 1969||Wales||2–1||Wembley Stadium||Home Championship|
|10 May 1969||Scotland||4–1||Wembley Stadium||Home Championship|
|1 June 1969||Mexico||0–0||Estadio Azteca, Mexico City||Friendly|
|8 June 1969||Uruguay||2–1||Estadio Centenario, Montevideo||Friendly|
|12 June 1969||Brazil||1–2||Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro||Friendly|
|10 December 1969||Portugal||1–0||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|25 February 1970||Belgium||3–1||Parc Astrid, Brussels||Friendly|
|18 April 1970||Wales||1–1||Ninian Park, Cardiff||Home Championship|
|25 April 1970||Scotland||0–0||Hampden Park, Glasgow||Home Championship|
|20 May 1970||Colombia||4–0||El Campín, Bogota||Friendly|
|24 May 1970||Ecuador||2–0||Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa, Quito||Friendly|
|2 June 1970||Romania||1–0||Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara||World Cup finals|
|7 June 1970||Brazil||0–1||Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara||World Cup finals|
|11 June 1970||Czechoslovakia||1–0||Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara||World Cup finals|
|14 June 1970||West Germany||2–3||Estadio Nou Camp, León||World Cup finals|
|25 November 1970||East Germany||3–1||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|3 February 1971||Malta||1–0||Empire Stadium, Gzira||Euro Champs qualifier|
|21 April 1971||Greece||3–0||Wembley Stadium||Euro Champs qualifier|
|12 May 1971||Malta||5–0||Wembley Stadium||Euro Champs qualifier|
|15 May 1971||Northern Ireland||1–0||Windsor Park, Belfast||Home Championship|
|22 May 1971||Scotland||3–1||Wembley Stadium||Home Championship|
|9 November 1971||Switzerland||1–1||Wembley Stadium||Euro Champs qualifier|
|30 November 1971||Greece||2–0||Karaïskákis Stadio, Athens||Euro Champs qualifier|
|29 April 1972||West Germany||1–3||Wembley Stadium||Euro Champs qualifier|
|13 May 1972||West Germany||0–0||Olympiastadion, Berlin||Euro Champs qualifier|
|27 May 1972||Scotland||1–0||Hampden Park, Glasgow||Home Championship|
|11 October 1972||Yugoslavia||1–1||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|15 November 1972||Wales||1–0||Ninian Park, Cardiff||World Cup qualifier|
|21 January 1973||Wales||1–1||Wembley Stadium||World Cup qualifier|
|14 February 1973||Scotland||5–0||Hampden Park, Glasgow||Friendly|
|12 May 1973||Northern Ireland||2–1||Goodison Park, Liverpool||Home Championship|
|15 May 1973||Wales||3–0||Wembley Stadium||Home Championship|
|19 May 1973||Scotland||1–0||Wembley Stadium||Home Championship|
|27 May 1973||Czechoslovakia||1–1||Letná Stadion, Prague||Friendly|
|6 June 1973||Poland||0–2||Stadion Slaski, Chorzow||World Cup qualifier|
|3 April 1974||Portugal||0–0||Estádio da Luz, Lisbon||Friendly|
|12 March 1975||West Germany||2–0||Wembley Stadium||Friendly|
|16 April 1975||Cyprus||5–0||Wembley Stadium||Euro Champs qualifier|
|11 May 1975||Cyprus||1–0||Tsirion Stadium, Limassol||Euro Champs qualifier|
|17 May 1975||Northern Ireland||0–0||Windsor Park, Belfast||Home Championship|
|21 May 1975||Wales||2–2||Wembley Stadium||Home Championship|
|24 May 1975||Scotland||5–1||Wembley Stadium||Home 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.
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.
|Philadelphia Fury||United States||June 1978||August 1978||?||?||?||?||?|
|Blackpool||England||1 July 1980||28 February 1981||34||7||10||17||20.59|
|Portsmouth||England||11 May 1984||17 January 1989||222||94||58||70||42.34|
|Stoke City||England||7 November 1989||23 February 1991||62||17||21||24||27.42|
|Exeter City||England||6 August 1991||20 January 1994||135||36||43||56||26.67|
|Southampton||England||21 January 1994||2 July 1995||67||22||24||21||32.84|
|Manchester City||England||3 July 1995||27 August 1996||49||13||14||22||26.53|
|Portsmouth||England||26 January 1998||9 December 1999||97||28||26||43||28.87|
a Total number of games managed in England.
Posted to YouTube by the official Alan Ball website shortly after his death.