Sunderland legend Kevin Ball was honoured to receive a Best of Wearside Award in recognition of the incredible contribution he has made to the city.
Following an emotional presentation, which featured a video showing some of his career highlights, Kevin told the Echo how the award meant a lot to him.
“It’s difficult to put into words how I feel,” he said on winning the award.
“It is just lovely to be perfectly honest. What I thought was lovely was the words they used to describe me.
“I still get a bit embarrassed when people talk about me like that, but I have to say that it really meant a real lot to me.”
Ever since he arrived from Portsmouth in 1990, Kevin Ball has been an immense figure at the club.
A member of the 1992 FA Cup final team, he captained the side to the championship in 1996 and in the record breaking 105-point season of 1999.
Since hanging up his boots, Kevin has successfully coached the under-18 team, nurturing current England and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, and has twice served the club as caretaker manager.
Kevin is respected for his current roles as club ambassador and as mentor to players, continuing their development while gaining experience on loan.
Described by fellow Sunderland legend Jimmy Montgomery as “articulate, passionate and inspirational”, Kevin was a deserving winner of the award.
Kevin said of the awards themselves: “It’s a really wonderful evening.
“It’s about real people doing real things and people going above and beyond to help others, above and beyond to do things that are important to the community for whatever party they are in.
“And when you sit and listen to their stories and listen to what they have done ... it’s inspiring.”
At the end of his presentation, Kevin was described as “one of Sunderland’s own”, something that he called “emotional”.
“I have lived up here longer than my home town,” he said, “But the fact that they called me one of their own, that was special.”