City faith leaders have praised Archbishop of Birmingham the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols as he takes up his new post as Archbishop of Westminster.
The 63-year-old football fan made his name for his robust defence of Catholic Schools and adoption agencies as well as his staunch defence of the church in the media.
Despite this, the Liverpool-born clergyman started out life with an ambition to be a lorry driver.
In one interview he explained how he felt the calling to join the church.
“I’d gone to watch Liverpool and I’d stand on the Kop at Anfield and say to God – why don’t you just leave me alone? Why can’t I just be one of a crowd?”
He was ordained in 1969 after studies in Rome, Manchester and Chicago and began life as a priest in a parish in Wigan before moving to work in Toxteth in Liverpool.
Four years after leaving Liverpool he became general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales working with the then Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Hume. He was made auxiliary bishop in the Westminster Archdiocese in 1992, the youngest British Bishop at the time, before becoming Archbishop of Birmingham in 2000.
He has courted controversy in the past becoming a powerful figure in defending the traditional values of the Roman Catholic Church – despite once being seen as a liberal.
In the past he has attacked the BBC for its alleged “biased and hostile” programming. Despite this he was still chosen to commentate on the televised funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005.
The 63-year-old has spoken many times of his desire to create religious harmony in Birmingham and has worked closely with the city’s faith leaders.
Birmingham Central Mosque chairman Dr Mohammed Naseem said: “He is a balanced, mature and fair leader. It’s been a joy and a pleasure to have worked with him.”
Echoing these thoughts was the chief Jewish minister, Rabbi Yossi Jacobs, who said that he wished the Archbishop every success.
The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Rev David Urquhart, also welcomed the appointment.
“He is an outstanding Christian pastor and teacher with a gift for communicating gospel values in public life,” he said..
“We will miss his wisdom and compassionate leadership.”