ALAN BALL - A TRUE EVERTON GREAT
Alan Ball is undoubtedly one of the finest footballers ever to don the Everton jersey.
Signed from Blackpool in August 1966 just weeks after winning the World Cup with England for a then British record fee of £110,000, the small, flame-haired midfielder quickly proved to be a hit with the fans.
From his opening goal on his league debut at Fulham, it was clear Ball's drive and passion struck a chord with supporters.
But he was able to blend that with unique talent, making him a player widely regarded as one of the club's greatest.
He became one-third of the famous Holy Trinity in Harry Catterick's midfield along with Howard Kendall and Colin Harvey.
The trio were key figures in Everton's league triumph of 1970 but was still just 26 when he departed Goodison to sign for Arsenal for £220,000.
He has recalled on many occasions since that it was a decision taken largely out of his hands. And very recently Ball underlined his unique relationship with Everton by becoming Honorary President of the Everton Collection Charitable Trust, speaking with his usual wit and flair at their dinner during Heritage Week.
He was also the Honorary President of Evertonia and a close friend of the club. He made 250 appearances for the Toffees - more than for any of his other clubs - netting an impressive 78 goals.
The Football Association has announced that England will wear black armbands in their Wembley friendly against Brazil in June as a mark of respect.
The news of his untimely death has stunned everybody associated with Everton.
Former Goodison winger Kevin Sheedy, now a youth coach for the Blues, said: "This is devastating news. I was fortunate enough to meet Alan Ball on a number of occasions and he always enjoyed talking about Everton. He was passionate about absolutely everything and the club was still clearly very dear to him and his passing is a sad loss."