Former Pools star Tommy Miller was back in Hartlepool to officially open a new business in Middleton Grange shopping centre.
Boots has launched an opticians and hearing centre in the mall after the former Evans unit underwent a major refurbishment.
It is employing eight staff to start with.
Director Emma Roberts said: “We are all extremely excited and proud to bring Boots Opticians to Hartlepool.
“We pride ourselves on an exceptional eye exam at Boots, and look forward to offering the people of Hartlepool exceptional ranges in price and designer glasses.
“Our aim is also to introduce people more to the concept of contact lenses, giving them confidence and flexibility in eye wear.”
Emma invited Tommy, who enjoyed a successful 20-year career in football, because of the store’s passion for contact lense wear, especially in sport.
Tommy, 38, who lives at Wynyard, and now runs his own coaching business, said: “When I was younger I remember a goalkeeper who wore glasses and were cellotaped round his head to keep them on.
“Nowadays with contact lenses it doesn’t affect them, they can enjoy sport just as much.”
Mark Rycraft, Middleton Grange manager, said: “We are thrilled Boots they are joining us at Middleton Grange.
“This has been a busy year for us at the centre, and the arrival of Boots Opticians represents another significant investment.
“It continues to demonstrate the confidence retailers have in the centre as well as strengthening our overall offering.”