HOW could you improve on footballing perfection?
Many observers claim the current Barcelona side are unparalleled in their master of the beautiful game – but when it comes to fantasy football, former Everton winger Ronnie Goodlass reckons he knows how the Catalonian giants could be even better.
“Alan Ball would have walked into that team,” says the man who once cleaned Ball’s boots as a trainee at Goodison.
“People talk about Barca’s great football but Everton used to play a 4-3-3 formation in the late 60/early 70s – they were ahead of their time in that respect.
“The current side are amazing to watch but they’re a bit quiet for me. Bally would be dishing out orders, encouraging his team-mates and adding a spark in both personality and quality.”
Goodlass is reminiscing about the man he – along with thousands of other Evertonians – idolised, ahead of the release of a special DVD dedicated to one of the finest players in the club’s history.
Proceeds of the ‘Alan Ball Remembered’ disc will go to Goodlass’s own charity ‘Health Through Sport’, an initiative to aid Merseyside youngsters from a variety of marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds.
And Goodlass hopes it will make the perfect Christmas present for Blues of a certain age, and fans who never saw the great man perform in royal blue.
He said: “I’ve always told kids that I’ve coached to pick the right role model, and I certainly did in Bally.
“These days a lot of youngsters look up to players for their ability and that’s fine but it’s the whole person that’s important.
“Bally had it all. Not only was he one of the all time greats, he was a good guy and a real family man. His whole ethos was about performing to the best of your ability all the time.”
Goodlass, who played 50 games for the Toffees during the 70s, said Ball never gave anything less than 100% while he was at Everton.
“Watching him in training was great,” he said. “He’d be out there on the training pitch treating a game of five a side like it was the World Cup final. That work ethic and commitment is part of what makes every Everton icon and it’s part of the club’s DNA.
“But he had exceptional ability too and that’s discussed in the DVD by other legends like Kendall, Royle and Sharp.”
The DVD also features footage of one of World Cup winner Ball’s last after-dinner speeches in Liverpool, before his untimely death from a heart attack in 2007.
“For me he was up there with Cruyff and Maradona,” added Goodlass.
As one of the original founder members of the Football League, Everton are a club steeped in history and tradition and have played more seasons in the top flight of English football than any other club. Their association with the greatest cup competition in the world has thus conjured some wonderful moments, and this offering from Sport Media celebrates a century of memories since their first FA Cup success in 1906. Celebrate a century of memories with 'Everton's FA Cup 100'. Read