Liverpool's Jordan Henderson and Everton's Jordan Pickford pay tribute to Sunderland legend Kevin Ball
Former Sunderland duo Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford have paid tribute to Black Cats legend Kevin Ball after he received a special award from The North East Football Writers’ Association.
Ball was recognised for his outstanding contribution to North East football and was presented with The John Fotheringham Award at a special dinner at Ramside Hall Hotel on Sunday night.
After joining Sunderland as a player in 1990, Ball made more than 350 appearances for the Black Cats, served twice as caretaker manager and has been a key figure in the club’s academy.
Both Henderson and Pickford came through the ranks on Wearside and praised Ball for the role he played in their careers.
Video messages were played on the evening when Ball collected his award.
Liverpool captain Henderson, who lifted the Champions League trophy with the Reds in June, said: “On a personal level, thank you for everything you’ve done for me.
“I don’t think I would have achieved what I have without going through the experience I did with you at such a young age and the foundation that you set for me.
“Giving me responsibility at such a young age, I feel like I’ve taken all of that into my work today and I’ll continue to do that.
“A massive thank you and a massive congratulations.”
In his message, Everton goalkeeper Pickford added: “Congratulations on the award, it’s brilliant for the North East.
“Massive legend as a player and as a coach for myself and so many youth players coming through the academy at Sunderland. You got us to where we are today and grounded us well.”
Ball, who works as a club ambassador for Sunderland, then credited the two England internationals for their commitment and achievements in the game.
“It’s great,” said Ball. “I think when you see what the pair of them are achieving in the game, Jordan Pickford is a totally different character to Jordan Henderson.
“The one thing that they both had was a real desire and a love of playing football and if you look at both of them and what they are achieving is outstanding.”