The man who gave Jim his first chance

BLUES boss Jim Magilton has added his own fitting tribute to Alan Ball, the manager who signed him at Southampton and gave him his first taste of top-flight football.

By Derek Davis

BLUES boss Jim Magilton has added his own fitting tribute to Alan Ball, the manager who signed him at Southampton and gave him his first taste of top-flight football.

As you can imagine with two fiery competitors, sparks occasionally flew, but Magilton held Ball in such high regard he asked him to give his Ipswich Town side a pep talk when they visited St Mary's in February.

Sadly Ball was abroad and could not make it for the passionate pre-match motivation, something that will now never take place.


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Magilton said: “Alan was very patriotic and loved England, which meant we had some lively conversations.

“We had our clashes but we had a very healthy relationship to the point where I asked him to come down to us and talk to the lads.

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“But he couldn't make it and when he called me on the eve of the match he was in Barbados, enjoying life, and after a few sad times recently it was good to see.

“I know the people of Southampton, and Portsmouth idolised him. He was a hero of theirs - and mine.

“He was absolutely top level. Sometimes when coaching players who didn't have his ability he didn't have much time for them, and that was perhaps his weakness as a manager. But he was always available to all these guys and someone you could talk to and get an honest answer from.”

A shocked and saddened Magilton learnt from Ball as a player and will take other lessons from him into his managerial career.

Magilton said: “There was no better football man in existence. Alan was very passionate, enthusiastic, he was one of those guys who wore his heart on his sleeve and was a fantastic motivator.

“Alan gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League, which I was always grateful for, and he was a joy to work with.

“Had he stayed at Southampton another couple of years I still feel we would have moved in a really positive direction because we had in place a very good side, so I was devastated when he went to Manchester City and felt the club didn't do enough to keep him.”

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