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Focus On; Alan Ball

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On 22 December 1971, Arsenal paid a record fee of £220,000 to take Ball to Highbury.[4] He was 26 years of age and at his peak for both form and fitness when he joined Arsenal; he made his debut against Nottingham Forest on 27 December 1971.

However, Arsenal could not defend their League title in 1971–72 and also lost their grasp on the FA Cup when Leeds United beat them 1–0 in the centenary final at Wembley.

Alan Ball had continued to play for Arsenal through all this time, as a near-constant member of the first team at first, including 50 appearances in 1972–73.

However, Arsenal’s Double-winning side was soon dismantled and their replacements proved inadequate; Ball remained one of the few quality players in the Arsenal side, and he was made club captain in 1974.

In April 1974 Ball broke his leg, resulting in his missing the start of the 1974–75 season, in which Arsenal finished 16th. Ball also missed the start of the 1975–76 season after an injury in the pre-season friendly at Crewe Alexandra, Arsenal subsequently finished in 17th place that season.

Bertie Mee resigned as Arsenal manager in the summer of 1976 and it was clear new manager Terry Neill wanted to take the club in a new direction. Now aged 31, Ball continued to play for Arsenal until December 1976, when he was sold to Southampton for a fee of £60,000. In total he made 217 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 52 goals.

FACTFILE

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