Manchester United legend Denis Irwin hailed the “fantastic” new £18 million Duncan Edwards Leisure Centre during a visit to the borough today.
Irwin, who also played for Wolves for two years, said it was on a par with the very best facilities he had seen as he attended the official opening this morning.
The genial Irishman was joined by Perry, the official mascot of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022, and a number of civic dignitaries including the leader of Dudley Council, Councillor Patrick Harley.
And the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Anne Millward, unveiled a plaque to officially declare the new centre open on Constitution Hill.
The facility, named after Dudley-born Manchester United legend Duncan Edwards, opened to the public at the end of last month.
Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:
"We are absolutely delighted with the new leisure centre. Even though it has only been open a short time, visits are already up significantly compared to the old centre and long may that continue.
"It will drive extra footfall into the centre of Dudley, and it means our children have got a first-class leisure facility they can use.
"Along with the other regeneration developments including the Metro, the new bus and tram interchange and more, it will see in the next couple of years the creation of a real high quality leisure hub in the centre of Dudley.
"I would like to thank Denis for coming along, he was an absolute gentleman and nothing was too much trouble. The fact he came shows the high regard Duncan is still held in by Manchester United more than 60 years after his death.
"He is Dudley’s best-loved son, and we named the centre after him because we want his name to live on for future generations."
Denis Irwin, Manchester United Global Ambassador, said:
"I think it’s fantastic that in Duncan’s hometown there is a facility like this and going forward, hopefully, this will be very well-used.
"We all go on about looking after ourselves these days physically and mentally, and this will play a vital part in the local community.
"It’s an incredible facility, on a par with the very best I’ve seen of its type, and it was a real honour for me to be asked to come along and see it."
Full-back Irwin is tenth on the list of all-time appearances for the Red Devils, pulling on the shirt 529 times in a trophy-laden 12-year spell which yielded seven Premier League titles, two FA Cups, two League Cups, the European Champions League and the European Cup Winners Cup.
The Irishman, who was also capped 56 times for his country, was described by Sir Alex Ferguson as pound for pound his greatest ever signing.
Irwin finished his career at Molineux, where he helped Wolves gain promotion back to the Premier League for the first time in nearly 20 years in 2003.
The new centre boasts a new 25 metre, eight-lane swimming pool and a teaching pool with spectator area. There’s also a four-court sports hall suitable for indoor football, badminton and more.
The complex includes a new gym and fitness suite, two exercise studios offering a wide range of programmes as well as a state-of-the-art immersive cycle studio – the first in the Black Country.
People can use the new power-assisted gym equipment, which will be particularly beneficial for people recovering from injury, those living with long-term health conditions or people with limited mobility.
And there’s also a soft play area, café, party room and sauna.
For more information on the new leisure centre, and on Halesowen Leisure Centre and Crystal Leisure Centre in Stourbridge, go to https://www.dbleisure.co.uk/