Nearly playing in Europe, football in the family and other things about Rotherham United new boy Dominic Ball ...
The closest Ball came to playing for Spurs’ first team was when he made the bench three times. He was an unused substitute in a 2-2 Europa League away draw in Benfica in March 2012 and was also in the matchday squad twice in the 2014/15 season, for a 1-0 home win over Partizan and a 2-1 Premier League away victory at Hull City.
Ball’s first taste of league football came in an 11-game loan spell at Cambridge United, where he made two assists, and he spent last season on loan at Rangers, playing 30 times, winning promotion to the Scottish Premier League and reaching the Scottish FA Cup Final.
The centre-half, who can also play as a defensive midfielder, came to new Rotherham boss Alan Stubbs’ attention when he played for Rangers against Stubbs’ Hibernian twice last season. Hibs beat Rangers 2-1 at home and then lost 4-2 at Ibrox.
He was on the bench for Rangers when Hibs beat them in last season’s Scottish FA Cup Final. Stubbs says he was delighted Ball wasn’t playing, having watched him turn in a superb performance in the Gers’ semi-final win over Celtic on penalties.
He played against the Millers in a pre-season friendly at Spurs’ Enfield training complex when the top-flight side won 3-1. Rotherham made their first call to Spurs about him soon afterwards.
Ball, who celebrated his 21st birthday a week last Tuesday, started out as a youth at Watford before moving to White Hart Lane in 2011.
Football is a family affair for the Balls. Dominic’s older brother, Matt, began his career at Norwich City and now turns out for non-league St Albans, while dad Tim was academy business manager at Watford. Dominic hails from Welwyn Garden City, where golfer Nick Faldo grew up.
His loan spell at Ibrox reunited him with his academy mentor at Watford, Rangers manager Mark Warburton.
He played for Northern Ireland up to under-21 level and then switched his allegiance to England, for whom he has made six U-21 appearances.