“Once a Brummie, always a Brummie.”
Those were the words of heavy metal idol Ozzy Osbourne when he returned to his home city of Birmingham to open a new tram named in his honour.
The Black Sabbath frontman, otherwise known as The Godfather of Metal, was in Corporation Street at around 11am this morning - and was greeted by hundreds of adoring fans.
Crowds chanted ‘Ozzy, Ozzy, Ozzy! Oi, oi, oi!’ as they waited for the star and the sounds of Sabbath’s Paranoid and Iron Man filled the air, before the legend himself arrived - provoking screams and cheers from his many followers.
One fan even travelled to Birmingham all the way from Poland just to see him, it was announced.
Taking to the stage beside the tram named in his honour, Ozzy said: “It's good to be here. I'm honoured to be here. Thank you very much. It's really cool.
"Once a Brummie, always a Brummie."
He also spoke of Black Sabbath - and the group’s final tour.
"The End Tour absolutely is the end,” added Ozzy.
“It's over now. Absolutely certain.
"We never thought back in 1968 that we'd be here, you know. It's just been one incredible journey.”
Joining Ozzy for the tram-naming were Councilor John Clancy, leader of Birmingham City Council, and Councillor Roger Lawrence, the chairman of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority.
The new stop on Corporation Street, set to open to the public on Monday, is part of a £128 million project which has seen the introduction of a new fleet of 21 Urbos 3 trams, a refurbished depot at Wednesbury and a new stop at Snow Hill station.
It is expected to boost the West Midlands economy by more than £50 million a year and create 1,300 new jobs, claims Centro.
Centro also says the new extension will deliver more than three million people a year directly into the heart of Birmingham's main shopping district.
Speaking after the ceremony, Cllr Roger Lawrence said the extension should see a large increase in use of the tram service - and that the work will eventually give the people of the West Midlands ‘the modern, up-to-date Metro system they deserve’.
"I know there have been some issues with how long it has taken to get this particular tram line completed, but from Monday morning the trams will be running right through the centre of Birmingham,” said Cllr Lawrence.
"After 16 years of having trams running through Wolverhampton, Birmingham's finally caught up.
"But the really good news is the usage has gone up by 20 per cent - even just since they've opened to Bull Street. So we're expecting a really big increase in usage on the Metro.
"And that gives us a lot of confidence for the further extensions that we've got planned."
By Kirsten Rawlins