Former England footballer Cyrille Regis dies aged 59

16 January, 2018, 01:30 | Author: Cassandra Gardner
  • Baggies legend Cyrille Regis has passed away aged 59

Cyrille Regis' widow has described her late husband as a "role model" and "a very precious treasure" after his death at the age of 59.

Regis was one of the pioneers for black footballers, playing alongside Laurie Cunningham and Brendan Batson during his time at West Brom.

West Brom put their faith in him when they paid £5,000 to take him to the Hawthorns in May 1977, and it was richly rewarded as he scored 112 goals in 297 appearances for the club before moving to Coventry in a £250,000 switch in 1984.

"For the rest of my playing days, it was also a motivation, a reminder that these people were not going to stop me", said Regis, whose role as a pioneer for black players in the game remained a source of deep satisfaction.

The trio became known as the "Three Degrees" and were frequently the targets of racist abuse and chants.

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Atkinson said: "Regis got five worldwide caps but today he would get 60 or 70 at least". He was more than just a footballer, he blazed a trail for every black player who followed him, an inspiration to myself and many players of my era.

Regis secured a move to Aston Villa in 1991 and also had spells at Wolves and Wycombe Wanderers before ending his career at Chester City.

He retired in 1996 having made 614 senior club appearances and scored 158 goals.

"What shocked me when I joined West Brom was the volume".

While working at talkSPORT, I produced a documentary on his career and had the chance to speak to him at length, you will not meet a more respectful and humble man.

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But the honour of being called up for his country in 1982, four years after Viv Anderson became England's first black player, exposed Regis to even more aggressive racism.

Apart from being a powerful and talented striker, Regis inspired a generation of black players. His second season was even better than his first, finishing with 13 goals as well as being voted the PFA Player of the Year.

He was named the Professional Footballers' Association's Young Player of the Year for 1978.

"Ian Wright, a later generation of black players, said "we were like Malcolm X ... but Cyrille was like Martin Luther King", Cyrille was always turning the other cheek".

Regis was a member of the Sky Blues team which famously lifted the FA Cup in 1987, earning himself a place in the folklore of another club.

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He was awarded an MBE in 2008 for services to the voluntary sector.

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