McMENEMY'S TRIBUTE TO HIS FRIEND

McMENEMY'S TRIBUTE TO HIS FRIEND

Close friend and former manager Lawrie McMenemy has paid tribute to Alan Ball, who passed away in the night from a heart attack at the age of 61.

Ball was one-third of the famous Everton Holy Trinity of Ball-Harvey-Kendall during his time at Goodison between 1966 and 1971, moving to Merseyside from Blackpool just a month after winning the World Cup with England at Wembley.

He moved to Arsenal in 1971 before dropping down to Southampton in the second division in 1976. McMenemy was the man who took him to the south coast and the two became close friends.

He was stunned today to hear the devastating news and paid this moving tribute: "Alan and myself should have played golf today with Hughie Fisher for the Wessex Heart Appeal would you believe.

"He was a fabulous footballer and a great man. He has tragedies in his life recently but he typically got up and battled on. He was about to move up to be near Mick Channon and the horses and it was the start of another change in his life and this is very sad news for anybody who ever knew him.

"There are only 11 lads who have won the World Cup and it is like a family welded together. He was the youngest of the team and he never lost that infectious attitude to everything he did.

"He was the best one touch player I ever saw. We used to do some one touch in training and he would look up at me with those cheeky eyes and say 'half a touch will do for me'.

"When he started as a young player he got into the England team very early and he would call himself a scrapper. It was him and Nobby Stiles in there as the workers. But he developed from being that scrapper to one of the best, most delicate footballers with great vision.

"He was the main reason we got promoted in Southampton and I brought him in to do exactly that. Sometimes he would be sitting in the dressing room saying he didn't have it in him but the minute his feet touched the grass he lit up. He was like a performer on a stage and he was brilliant for any manager to have.

"He was the best player any player would ever play with. He was also one of the best family men you will ever come across. He was a lovely man and I personally cannot get over it."

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