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Everton legend Alan Ball dies

Tributes pile up at at Goodison as generations of Blues fans remember hero of '66

Published on April 27th 2007.

Everton legend Alan Ball dies

Alan Ball, the youngest member of the 1966 England World Cup Squad, who spent five years at Goodison, has died after tackling a garden fire.

Firefighters were called to his Hampshire home at 12.15am on Wednesday when his body was discovered outside.

The 61-year-old, the youngest member of the team that lifted the Jules Rimet trophy, had spent the day working on his garden, but it appears that a bonfire had spread to a fence.

He died just hours after watching television coverage of Manchester United's 3-2 Champions League semi-final first leg win against AC Milan.The midfielder starred for both Everton and Arsenal. Ball won 72 caps for his country in a 10-year England career and is the second member of the 1966 side to pass away after captain Bobby Moore in 1993. He was a key member of manager Sir Alf Ramsey's "Wingless Wonders", and was awarded an MBE in 2000 for his services to football.

His son Jimmy Ball said: "I was talking to him last night just after the football and he was in great form. We were talking about (Paul) Scholes's pass. And then I got a phone call in the middle of the night. It's unbelievable."

Many floral tributes have already been laid at Goodison Park, where flags are flying at half mast.

Ex-Everton player Ronnie Goodlass, who used to clean Ball's boots as an apprentice at Goodison and later became his friend, described him as a rare talent and model professional.

"He was my idol, and you could not pick a better person to look up to. He always wanted to be the best in everything he did, whether that was during a match or in training."

Ian Ross, PR chief at Everton, said: "He will always be remembered up here - he left an indelible mark on Merseyside football. He was a genuine footballing man, a lovely man and he will be remembered with great affection by everybody in the city."

Ball, whose death comes on the first anniversary of another Everton legend, Brian Labone, will be remembered with a minute's silence at Goodison before Saturday's match against Manchester United.

"We've lost another legend in football here," Ross said.

Pictures by Peter Byrne

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