Alan Ball still remembers that final whistle in 1966.

Alan Ball, who is one of the few English football players to have lifted the World Cup as a key member of Alf Ramsey's 1966 winning team, is still as passionate as ever about football and he still clearly remembers that final whistle which ended a game which went down in history and is still emotionally discussed and argued about by both the English and the Germans. Ball, whose last managerial post was at Portsmouth in 1999, runs a football academy in Spain and is also a keen golfer. Yesterday, as he prepared for a round of golf at Bendinat he cast his mind back to that glorious day in 1966. “I was a young boy, I was just 21 and like most things you do when you're young, you don't quite appreciate exactly what happens. “But I remember as the whistle blew to finish the game looking round and thinking: let's go party, as you would at that age, and the older players of the team like Jackie Charlton, Bobbie Charlton and Ray Wilson, they were just beside themselves and I just thought, what is going on here? And then it came home to me and it was a different feeling about actually being the best in the world.” Ball thinks that England could have won the World Cup again in 1970. “When we went to Mexico you know, I thought we were better. “There were about eight of us still left in the team, we were a little bit older and I thought we were a better equipped squad to go and win it again. “But we had a crazy game against the Germans, we were winning 2-0 and they finished up beating us 3-2 - which is one of those bizarre situations which does happen in sport and since then we've never really looked like we're going to win it.” One of the current problems for the top players is that their hearts are split between their country and their club. “I think they know where their bread's buttered, some of those players on big money. “But there are also a lot of foreign managers in England and it doesn't really touch them as much as it ought to - that England should win and therefore provide the best players. But also I think the hunger has gone out of the English player, through money. “You've got boys of 18 years of age who are going to be millionaires, not on what they can do, but on what they might do. “I was brought up in the North of England and every day you had to go and get the carrot - you had to go and get it! “But unfortunately now they don't have to do that quite so much, so the hunger is taken out of the person.” At the start of this month Ball was reported to have blasted the appointment of Sven Goran Eriksson as the new England manager, but yesterday he explained that he was not criticising the Swedish manager, but the way in which he was selected by the Football Association.


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