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Alan Ball
Full name Alan James Ball
Nationality Eng England
Caps (goals) 72 (8)
Rovers apps (goals)a 17 (2)
Position Midfielder
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
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 career[]

Club career[]

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.


International career[]

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 appearances[]

N.B. England's score is always given first. (Source:
Date Opposition Result Venue Competition
9 May 1965 Yug Yugoslavia 1–1 Stadion Crvena Zvezda, Belgrade Friendly
12 May 1965 Ger West Germany 1–0 Franken Stadion, Nurenberg Friendly
16 May 1965 Swe Sweden 2–1 Ullevi Stadion, Gothenburg Friendly
8 December 1965 Esp (1945-1977) Spain 2–0 Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid Friendly
5 January 1966 Pol Poland 1–1 Goodison Park, Liverpool Friendly
23 February 1966 Ger West Germany 1–0 Wembley Stadium Friendly
2 April 1966 Sco Scotland 4–3 Hampden Park, Glasgow Home Championship
26 June 1966 Fin Finland 3–0 Olympiastadion, Helsinki Friendly
3 July 1966 Den Denmark 2–0 Idrætsparken, Copenhagen Friendly
5 July 1966 Pol Poland 1–0 Stadion Slaski, Chorzow Friendly
11 July 1966 Uru Uruguay 1–1 Wembley Stadium World Cup finals
23 July 1966 Arg Argentina 1–0 Wembley Stadium World Cup finals
26 July 1966 Por Portugal 2–1 Wembley Stadium World Cup finals
30 July 1966 Ger West Germany 4–2 Wembley Stadium World Cup finals
20 October 1966 Nir Northern Ireland 2–0 Windsor Park, Belfast Euro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
2 November 1966 Cze Czechoslovakia 0–0 Wembley Stadium Friendly
16 November 1966 Wal Wales 5–1 Wembley Stadium Euro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
15 April 1967 Sco Scotland 2–3 Wembley Stadium Euro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
24 May 1967 Esp (1945-1977) Spain 2–0 Wembley Stadium Friendly
27 May 1967 Aut Austria 1–0 Ernst-Happel-Stadion, Vienna Friendly
21 October 1967 Wal Wales 3–0 Ninian Park, Cardiff Euro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
6 December 1967 Urs Soviet Union 2–2 Wembley Stadium Friendly
24 February 1968 Sco Scotland 1–1 Hampden Park, Glasgow Euro Champs qualifier
Home Championship
3 April 1968 Esp (1945-1977) Spain 1–0 Wembley Stadium Euro Champs qualifier
8 May 1968 Esp (1945-1977) Spain 2–1 Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid Euro Champs qualifier
1 June 1968 Ger West Germany 0–1 Niedersachsenstadion, Hanover Friendly
5 June 1968 Yug Yugoslavia 0–1 Stadio Comunale, Florence Euro Champs finals
6 November 1968 Rou (1965-1989) Romania 0–0 Stadionul 23 August, Bucharest Friendly
15 January 1969 Rou (1965-1989) Romania 1–1 Wembley Stadium Friendly
3 May 1969 Nir Northern Ireland 3–1 Windsor Park, Belfast Home Championship
7 May 1969 Wal Wales 2–1 Wembley Stadium Home Championship
10 May 1969 Sco Scotland 4–1 Wembley Stadium Home Championship
1 June 1969 Mex Mexico 0–0 Estadio Azteca, Mexico City Friendly
8 June 1969 Uru Uruguay 2–1 Estadio Centenario, Montevideo Friendly
12 June 1969 Bra (1968-1992) Brazil 1–2 Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro Friendly
10 December 1969 Por Portugal 1–0 Wembley Stadium Friendly
25 February 1970 Bel Belgium 3–1 Parc Astrid, Brussels Friendly
18 April 1970 Wal Wales 1–1 Ninian Park, Cardiff Home Championship
25 April 1970 Sco Scotland 0–0 Hampden Park, Glasgow Home Championship
20 May 1970 Col Colombia 4–0 El Campín, Bogota Friendly
24 May 1970 Ecu Ecuador 2–0 Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa, Quito Friendly
2 June 1970 Rou (1965-1989) Romania 1–0 Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara World Cup finals
7 June 1970 Bra (1968-1992) Brazil 0–1 Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara World Cup finals
11 June 1970 Cze Czechoslovakia 1–0 Estádio Jalisco, Guadalajara World Cup finals
14 June 1970 Ger West Germany 2–3 Estadio Nou Camp, León World Cup finals
25 November 1970 Gdr East Germany 3–1 Wembley Stadium Friendly
3 February 1971 Mlt Malta 1–0 Empire Stadium, Gzira Euro Champs qualifier
21 April 1971 Gre Greece 3–0 Wembley Stadium Euro Champs qualifier
12 May 1971 Mlt Malta 5–0 Wembley Stadium Euro Champs qualifier
15 May 1971 Nir Northern Ireland 1–0 Windsor Park, Belfast Home Championship
22 May 1971 Sco Scotland 3–1 Wembley Stadium Home Championship
9 November 1971 Sui Switzerland 1–1 Wembley Stadium Euro Champs qualifier
30 November 1971 Gre Greece 2–0 Karaïskákis Stadio, Athens Euro Champs qualifier
29 April 1972 Ger West Germany 1–3 Wembley Stadium Euro Champs qualifier
13 May 1972 Ger West Germany 0–0 Olympiastadion, Berlin Euro Champs qualifier
27 May 1972 Sco Scotland 1–0 Hampden Park, Glasgow Home Championship
11 October 1972 Yug Yugoslavia 1–1 Wembley Stadium Friendly
15 November 1972 Wal Wales 1–0 Ninian Park, Cardiff World Cup qualifier
21 January 1973 Wal Wales 1–1 Wembley Stadium World Cup qualifier
14 February 1973 Sco Scotland 5–0 Hampden Park, Glasgow Friendly
12 May 1973 Nir Northern Ireland 2–1 Goodison Park, Liverpool Home Championship
15 May 1973 Wal Wales 3–0 Wembley Stadium Home Championship
19 May 1973 Sco Scotland 1–0 Wembley Stadium Home Championship
27 May 1973 Cze Czechoslovakia 1–1 Letná Stadion, Prague Friendly
6 June 1973 Pol Poland 0–2 Stadion Slaski, Chorzow World Cup qualifier
3 April 1974 Por Portugal 0–0 Estádio da Luz, Lisbon Friendly
12 March 1975 Ger West Germany 2–0 Wembley Stadium Friendly
16 April 1975 Cyp Cyprus 5–0 Wembley Stadium Euro Champs qualifier
11 May 1975 Cyp Cyprus 1–0 Tsirion Stadium, Limassol Euro Champs qualifier
17 May 1975 Nir Northern Ireland 0–0 Windsor Park, Belfast Home Championship
21 May 1975 Wal Wales 2–2 Wembley Stadium Home Championship
24 May 1975 Sco Scotland 5–1 Wembley Stadium Home Championship

Managerial career and later life[]

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 stats[]

Team Nation From To Record
G W D L Win %
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 video[]

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