It is a special footballer who wins the World Cup as a 21-year-old and ends a two-decade career as one of the most revered players in the history of four clubs. Former England captain Alan Ball was such a man: prodigy at Blackpool, youngest hero of 1966, Championship winner at Everton, British-record signing for the second time at Arsenal and veteran schemer for Southampton - not to mention footwear trend-setter. And all after being told he was too small to succeed in the game.
Yet his years as a flat-cap wearing manager consisted mostly of relegation and promotion battles, some successful and some not, and plenty of frustration as he fought to produce winners in his own image and emulate the feats of his playing days.
His life already touched tragically by the car crash that killed his father and the loss of his beloved wife Lesley to cancer, Ball died, aged only 61, after suffering a heart attack during a garden blaze.
A decade on from his death, and drawing on interviews with family, friends and colleagues, Alan Ball: The Man in White Boots is the definitive study of one of English football's most enduring figures.
David Tossell is the author of fourteen previous sports books, five of which have been short-listed in the British Sports Book Awards and two for the MCC/Cricket Society Book of the Year. Formerly executive sports editor of the Today newspaper, he has been head of public relations in Europe for the National Football League (NFL) for the past two decades. As a boy, he played for school football and rugby teams wearing Alan Ball-endorsed white boots.