Rotherham United swooped for new boy Dominic Ball after encountering the young Tottenham Hotspur defender’s talents first hand in a pre-season friendly.
Millers manager Alan Stubbs, who was in charge at Hibernian last season, had already been impressed by Ball when the youngster was on loan at Scottish giants Rangers.
When Stubbs took his new side to Premier League Spurs for a behind-closed-doors match last month and Ball played well again in a 3-1 home win, Rotherham decided to make their move.
Ball, who celebrated his 21st birthday last week, today signed a three-year deal at AESSEAL New York Stadium and becomes the ninth summer arrival after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee.
“The initial call was made after he played against us in the pre-season game,” Stubbs told The Star.
“I wasn’t too sure whether we would have the chance to actually sign him on a full transfer. We managed to make the initial phone call to see about his availability and we were able to get the deal done, so we are delighted.
“We have looked at a couple of defensive options, and then the phone call came about. We were pleasantly surprised we were in a position where, once we got to an arranged fee, it progressed quite quickly.”
Ball made his Football League bow during a loan spell with Cambridge United before spending last year with Rangers. His versatility will be useful to the Millers and he may be in the squad for tomorrow’s Championship clash at Aston Villa.
“For a young defender, he is adaptable,” Stubbs added. “He has played centre-back, he has played in a three at the back, he has played as a holding midfield player - and that gives you an idea of how comfortable on the ball he is. It also tells you how intelligent he is as a defender that he can play all of those roles.
“He is a very exciting young defender who we have got at a great age. He is only going to get better.”
Stubbs still wants to make additions to his squad before the close of the August transfer window, with a left-back, striker and winger among his targets.
The manager, a top-flight centre-half in his own playing days, believe he can have a beneficial effect on Ball who made the Spurs first-team squad on three occasions but was never given a debut.
“If I don’t have a positive affect on him, it doesn’t say a lot for me!” he said. “I certainly think I can improve him as a defender. It is my job to improve people on and off the pitch and I fully believe that I can do that.”
With a showdown in front of a big Villa Park crowd looming, Stubbs has no doubt that his latest recruit will rise to the challenge of facing the biggest clubs in the English second tier.
“For any young player to be playing in that environment at Rangers is a testament to them as an individual,” he said. “He was able to cope with the pressure of playing for such a huge club. He went there and performed very well.”