Alan Ball dies

Former World Cup winner Alan Ball has died of a heart attack, aged 61.

He was reportedly tackling a bonfire that had gotten out of hand outside his home in Hampshire and collapsed.

The youngest member of the famous 1966 team, Ball graduated to football management at the end of his career and was a well-respected man-manager and motivator.

He was also a highly sought-after speaker when he left Portsmouth in 1999 - his final job in football management - and was honoured with an MBE for services to football in the New Year's Honours List in 2000, along with the rest of his former team-mates from the 1966 World Cup.

Geoff Hurst, scorer of a hat-trick against Germany in the Wembley final, nevertheless described Ball as "the man of the match".

"He was the youngest member of the team and he was always a good laugh," Hurst added. "We're all totally devastated."

Ball's performance in the final even encouraged manager Sir Alf Ramsey to comment to him afterwards: "You'll never play a better game for me than that."

As well as his achievements in winning the World Cup at the age of just 21, Ball became the most expensive footballer in Britain when he joined Everton from Blackpool for £110,000 shortly after he played a starring role in the final.

He helped Everton win the league championship in 1970 and later played for Arsenal, Southampton and Bristol Rovers, as well as a period playing in North America.

After he graduated to management, he endured a difficult career - experiencing relegation with several of the clubs he coached, including Blackpool, Portsmouth, Exeter City and Manchester City.

He sold his England cap from the World Cup final for £43,200 and also gave up his winners' medal for £164,800 in May 2005 to secure the financial future of his family.

Ball is only the second member of the famous 1966 team to pass away – the other being the captain that day, West Ham legend Bobby Moore, who died in 1993 aged 51.

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