AS professionals, sportspeople don’t have the best reputations. They pick up obscenely large pay packets, manage to get themselves caught up in unseemly scrapes outside nightclubs, have little understanding of giving back to their local communities, and seem more dedicated to the tattooist’s parlour than to the club or the town which pays their wages.

Paul Collingwood has been genuinely different. He has been a true role model.

He proved that, from unglamorous and unprivileged beginnings in Shotley Bridge, you can go on to achieve at the highest level.

Not the most extravagantly talented of players, he has achieved extraordinary success through old-fashioned attributes such as dedication, application, commitment and hard work.

He wasn’t the sort of star player whose name was first on the international teamsheet, but he became undroppable for England because of his reliability – he would never let the team down, he would always keep his end up, he never dropped a catch.

And he was loyal. At a time when players’ heads are turned by talk of lucrative contracts elsewhere, he has stuck with his home county of Durham for 23 seasons. After 2010, when he retired from international cricket, he might have sought fresh challenges, but he remained with Durham, lending his vital experience to a club that was going through the wringers.

In other circumstances it is a cliché, but in this case it is true to say that Paul Collingwood has served his club well.

Ian Botham yesterday called him “Mr Durham”, and that is a very appropriate accolade. We thank him for his service and for being a genuine sporting role model, and we wish him all the best for wherever life takes him next.