On this day: Tributes pour in for former Pompey boss Ball
On this day in 2007, the football world was in shock as it came to terms with the suddden death of Alan Ball.
And figures who knew him from his days at Pompey, as well as through his career as an England international and at top clubs like Arsenal and Everton, were quick to pay tribute to the 1966 World Cup winner.
Ball was manager of Pompey when Milan Mandaric bought Pompey in 1999 and the former Fratton chairman was stunned at Ball’s death.
Speaking to The News at the time, he said: ‘I can’t believe it. It’s terrible – so sad.
‘He was part of Pompey - a beautiful man.
‘I remember when I first came to Pompey, We sat down together and he cried when he talked about the loss of his father.
‘He was a very sensitive man – a good man.
‘He was a soccer legend and great company – great to be around.’
One of Ball’s key players during his second spell as Fratton boss was midfielder Alan McLoughlin.
Macca told The News: ‘It’s absolutely shocking – 61 is no age.
‘He kick-started my career again when he came back to Pompey in 1998.
‘He believed in me and took my football to another level.
‘He came in and lifted the whole club. His enthusiasm was infectious. He was always positive. Some of his team talks were fantastic
‘He brought a passion back to the club. Nothing was negative.
‘When he spoke to you, you listened. He was an incredible player, and he had an aura about him.
‘I remember the home game against Stockport when the whole crowd sang "Alan Ball’s Blue & White Army" for 90 minutes.
‘Stockport players couldn’t believe it. We won 1-0 and it started the run where we stayed up at Bradford.
‘I think Alan Ball’s passion rubbed off on the fans, and vice versa.’
Ball was the second member of the England team who lifted the World Cup in 1966 to pass away – Sir Bobby Moore was the first when he died of cancer in 1993.
Sir Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 final against Germany, said: ‘Alan was the youngest member of the team and man of the match in the final.
‘Socially he was always a good laugh and the 1966 team mixed a lot after then. We are all totally devastated.’
Lawrie McMenemy twice signed Ball for Southampton and had stayed good friends with him.
The pair were due to play golf in aid of the Wessex Heartbeat charity, a cause Ball had supported for many years.
McMenemy said: ‘We were very, very good friends.
‘I was very fortunate to manage him.
‘Once his feet touched the grass he was like a performer on the stage.
‘He was quality and he enabled us to get promoted and I brought him back again.
‘He was a great player. He had the engine and he had this peripheral vision and was respected by every footballer in the game.
‘Alan tragically lost wife Leslie a few years ago but he typically got on and he always kept his family close. He was a great family man.
‘He was about to move up to his close pal Mick Channon and start a new part of his life that he was very excited about.
‘He had an enthusiasm for life, not just football, and it spread. He was a lovely fellow.’
England team-mate Alan Mullery added: ‘I just can’t believe it.
His nickname was Bouncy, he was just such a bouncy, lively 61-year-old.
‘It’s such a shock. He was a loveable character, heart of gold and lived football. He just loved playing for his country.
'He was a wonderful footballer to have in your side, he was so enthusiastic. He had a marvellous engine for a midfield player.’