Arsenal had just won their famous double and it was clear that Bertie Mee believed Alan Ball would be the perfect addition as he approached Everton. Alan Ball moved to Highbury for £220.000, at that time no club had payed more for a player in English football.
His first season at Arsenal culuminated in a FA Cup final runners-up experience and ending 5th in the league as he could not copy the title he won with Everton two years before and the Arsenal win in the prior season.
His move to Arsenal was all happening mid-season as he made his debut vs. Nottingham Forest in December 71. In his second season Arsenal followed Liverpool to the door in league and ended 2nd. Alan Ball had a great impact and played 40 games in all, scoring 10 goals.
The next season became a bit of a down as Arsenal were in decline and ended 10th in the table with Ball also struggling with injuries. He did play 36 league games but it was not the best of years and the next also became a difficult one.
Ball still played to his best level and captained England, but in December five years after his arrival he was sold on to 2nd division Southampton for a fee of £60.000. He did play 177 league games and scored 45 goals during his days at Highbury.
Despite not being part of a top winning culture at Arsenal and building a momentum for trophies he really became a favorite among fans as his contribution and work ethic was fantastic. Arsenal had some grand performances during those times.
Alan Ball experienced something of a grand return after he did appear in the 1979 League Cup final with Southampton and also won the NASL Soccer Bowl, winning the final 2-1 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies.
His first taste of management was not the best as he returned to Blackpool, but after just a season made a return to full action for Southampton and later also spells in Hong Kong and Bristol Rovers.
His real route in management started with Portsmouth in 1984 getting them promoted to the first division and later being in charge of Southampton and Manchester City in the top flight. Sadly Ball passed away at an age of only 61 in 2007.
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