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Kevin BallFormer Sunderland skipper holds Alec in the "highest esteem" - even though he did cost him a 100 fine!

A row during a game when he was playing for Sunderland cost Alec Chamberlain a 100 fine - but earned him the total and continued respect of his team captain!

Explained Kevin Ball, who also had to pay 100 for his part in the heated row: "It was during our Championship season in 1995-96 when we were promoted to the Premiership, and at one stage during a game I felt that Alec should have come for a cross when instead he shouted for us to clear the ball.

"Well, we had a massive barney on the pitch - Alec stood his ground, justified himself and then got on with his game.

"The next day, Peter Reid - who was manager at the time - called us together and fined us 100 each. I must admit, it was my fault and I explained that to the boss, but we both had to pay up - and years later i'll happily put my hands up and admit I cost Alec a hundred quid!"

Ball explained that he had always respect Alec as a person and a footballer, but said his respect grew after that on-the-pitch spat because he was impressed with how his team-mate had stood up for himself.

"That's just one of the many reasons I hold Alec in such high esteem," explained Ball, now a member of Sunderland's coaching staff.

"Another example of the kind of player Alec is, is how he responded to being dropped by Peter Reid, again during that Championship year.

"All players have their ups and their downs - or their various experiences, as I prefer to call it - and Alec was replaced by Shay Given, who was then a rising star and on loan with us, before going on to make a name for himself with Newcastle and the Republic of Ireland.

"Week in, week out, Alec prepared during the week as if he was playing on the Saturday, even though he knew he wasn't, and all of us had total respect for the guy.

"Anyway, Shay had to go back to Blackburn at a time we were on a great run and galloping towards promotion and the title, and Alec came back into the team," said Ball. "He was under great pressure, because Shay had done really well - but Alec just slotted straight back into the team and was magnificent, and we duly clinched the title. I had even more respect for him after that."

Like everyone else we have spoken to, Ball says it is not just respect that endears him to Alec. "He's just a really decent guy, and we became very good friends - we keep in touch now, and it's great that Alec, Jane, Natasha and Ryan come and stop with us when Watford come up to Sunderland.

"I really wish him all the best for his Testimonial season, he really deserves the honour," said Ball. "It was a great experience playing alongside Alec, and i hold him in the highest esteem, both personally and professionally.

"He's had a great career, and in 23 years has never let anyone down, and it's to his credit that he's stayed at the top of his game so long."

Written by Peter Jones, of the PR consultancy Red Alert Media.

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