“He was the only player to win goal of the season with a header.”

Ben Houchen is referring to his uncle, Keith, who scored the winning goal for Coventry City in the 1987 FA Cup final.

The Middlesbrough-born footballer also made more than 350 appearances for Hartlepool United.

Ben’s family’s sporting pedigree began a generation earlier. His grandmother reached the first round of Wimbledon, and was coached by Fred Perry - the last British Wimbledon mens singles’ champion before Andy Murray’s triumph in 2013.

With such a family history, it appears the role of chief executive of BLK Sport was perfectly suited to Ben.

“It was mostly a business a decision – it just so happens that I am extremely passionate about rugby” he explained.

Ben himself had his own promising sporting career ahead of him, before injury dealt a crushing blow on his dreams.

He fractured three vertebrae in his back, ruling him out of the sport for 12 months at a crucial stage in his life.

“It was what I had concentrated on all my life. At that age, people are moving on and I had friends starting to university.

“I would have four days of rugby training, along with all the gym work, so it was effectively seven days a week for 10 years.”

During his teenage playing days, when he was a member of the Leeds Carnegie and England RFU Development squad, he was coached by Stuart Lancaster, who led England during the 2015 World Cup.

“He was the same as he is now. He is very focused, driven, and not a very emotional character.

“He is one of the new age coaches who uses scientific methods and is big on nutrition. It was a lot of hard work.”

“The injury was hard to deal with at first, but my parents supported my education. They told me sport did not guarantee a living, so I wanted to get a qualification.

“I knew from about the age of 12 and 13 that I was going to go to university and study law – I was fascinated by it.”

And it was during his days as a solicitor that he was reunited with his passion for sport.

“I worked as a corporate solicitor for six years. I was trained in Stockton and Middlesbrough and got to know a few people.

“A client asked me to do some work for them, and one of the projects involved setting up BLK in Dubai.

“Eventually, the owner of the BLK global brand in Australia asked me to run their base in the UK.”

BLK, which stands for Beyond Limits Known, employs more than 20 staff and its clients include the Saracens rugby union team and the England rugby league side.

“Last season couldn’t have gone any better for Saracens becoming domestic and European champions, and they are in a great position to be Premiership champions again, as well as being one of the favourites in Europe.

“There is a lot of trying times in this industry, so we’ve had to establish ourselves.

“I’ve been in Stockton my whole life, and I didn’t want to leave the North-East. So relocating from Manchester and setting up in Stockton has to be the biggest challenge.”

Last week, BLK’s parent company, Australian-based World Rugby Specialists, went into administration, and numerous people contacted The Northern Echo to say 10 Stockton workers had lost their jobs, but Ben described the figure as being “completely false”.

He did confirm three members of the sales team had been made redundant, but said the move was not related to BLK’s parent group entering administration.

“We have had to restructure our workforce, but we are now expanding not dismissing.”

Those living in Teesside will be familiar with Ben in his other capacities away from sport and business. He has been leader of the Stockton Borough Council Conservatives group for the last two years, and carries out his political duties alongside his work with BLK.

“It is difficult to balance, but the work does complement each other.

“It is important to understand business in Stockton and the local economy. It is because of this understanding that BLK has created 14 new jobs in Stockton.”

With two such demanding roles, where does Ben expected to prioritise his focus in the future?

“I don’t know – but it is not something I need to decide right now. I think it is important that politicians have a wide breadth of experiences. Very few do other things other than politics.

“We are looking to grow the brand and increase our partnerships with rugby teams, and we are looking to move into other areas including football.

“It would be great to get more professional teams on board, particularly those in the North-East, whether it be Newcastle Falcons or Hartlepool and Middlesbrough.”

Ben’s love and passion for his region means he could be the man that makes it happen.

Five minutes with Ben Houchen…..

Favourite North-East building?

The Sage in Gateshead.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid?

I worked in a pizza takeaway shop when I was at school. I worked 4pm to 12am and got paid £15 and a free pizza on a Saturday.

What is the worst job you've had?

The pizza takeaway shop. The less said the better.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner?

Salmon fillet with garlic and coriander dressing and roast vegetables.

What would your superpower be?

Mind reading.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party. Hugh Laurie, Lynton Crosby, Alexander Khodakovsky and Nelson Mandela.

Most expensive thing you've bought - other than car or house - and how much?

A watch for £400.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why? Andrew Neil – BBC politics presenter. Very fair, impartial and informative on all things current affairs.

Favourite book?

The Count of Monte Cristo.

When did you last cry?

Six weeks ago.

What is your greatest achievement?

I helped to get my good friend and local MP, James Wharton, elected in 2010 and again in 2015, which I firmly believe has given Stockton and Teesside significant opportunities and prospects.

What's the best piece of advice in business you've ever been given?

Cash is king.

Favourite animal and why.

Polar Bears. My wife would expect me to say polar bears.

Most famous person on your mobile phone.

Craig Hignett.

What was the last band you saw live?

Arctic Monkeys.

Describe your perfect night in.

Just a night where I don’t have to work and I get to spend it with my wife and/or family.

In another life I would be...

A professional rugby player.

Who would play you in a film of your life Tom Hardy would be nice.

What irritates you? People who say one thing and then communicate in an email or do something completely differently. Trust or a failure of trust is extremely important to me.

What's your secret talent?

Ability to sleep through anything.