Alan Ball laid to rest

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The funeral of England legend Alan Ball is being held at Winchester cathedral today, with thousands of mourners in attendance.

The World Cup winner died last week at the age of 61 when he suffered a heart attack tending a bonfire at his home in Warsash, Hampshire.

And alongside the thousands watching the ceremony from outside the cathedral, many of Ball's team-mates from the 1966 team are also present to pay their respects.

Fellow 1966 World Cup star Nobby Stiles delivered a speech during the service, in which he described Ball as the "best player on the pitch" during the famous 4-2 final win over Germany at Wembley.

Frank McKlintock, who was Arsenal captain when Ball played for the Gunners, also delivered a moving tribute.

McKlintock spoke of Ball's enthusiasm for life and recounted tales of the "ginger tomcat's" practical jokes to applause from those attending.

The ceremony itself inside the cathedral was restricted to close friends and family but the proceedings were relayed by speakers to the rest of the congregation gathered on the lawn outside.

Tributes have been paid to the flame-haired winger by many members of the football community.

And books of condolence have been placed at several of Ball's former clubs, including Southampton, where he was a manager, and Portsmouth and Everton, where he enjoyed great success as a player.

The mourners' procession was led by Ball's 31-year-old son Jimmy and daughters Mandy Byrne, 39, and Keely Allan, 35.

The coffin was draped with an England flag and had one of Ball's trademark flat caps placed upon it.

Jimmy Ball brought the service to a close by thanking the mourners for coming and calling his father the "best man I ever met" during his tribute, which was again greeted with warm applause.

Frank Sinatra's My Way, Ball's favourite song, was played as the moving proceedings came to a close and the coffin was carried out of the cathedral.

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