KEVIN Ball netted the honour of launching a new fire station.
The former Sunderland player, who now works as a development coach with the club, opened the new facility for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.
He told those gathered for the celebration, he remembered waving to firefighters, based at a nearby station, as a youngster as they left on shouts and considered joining the service if he had not made it as a footballer.
He also spoke of how he backed plans to run a young firefighters’ group from the replacement station in Crook, as his own job sees him work with young players.
Susan Johnson, the service’s chief executive, said: “We are very pleased that Kevin Ball was able to take the time to open this fantastic facility.”