Tributes have poured in after former West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City and England striker Cyrille Regis passed away, aged 59, on Sunday evening.
Regis was a pioneer and an inspiration for black footballers. As part of WBA’s ‘Three Degrees’, alongside Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson, he played a huge part in black players being accepted into the English game.
After a seven-year spell at West Brom, Regis moved to Coventry and he helped them beat Tottenham Hotspur in a scintillating final to win the 1987 FA Cup.
Spells with Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers and Chester City took him to the end of his career in 1996.
As an international, Regis represented England at Under-21 and B level, before making his senior debut against Northern Ireland in 1982. That made him the third black England international after Viv Anderson and teammate Cunningham.
Unfortunately, his international career never really hit major heights and he only earned five caps between 1982 and 1987.
Off the pitch, Regis was inducted into the Coventry City Hall of Fame, voted WBA all-time Cult Hero and received an MBE in 2008.
Following a 1989 car crash, which claimed the life of teammate and friend Cunningham, Regis turned to religion and became a born-again Christian.
Following his passing, due to cardiac arrest, his wife issued a statement.
Via West Bromwich Albion’s official website, Julia Regis said:
“He was a beautiful man and a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle.
“Losing him has turned my whole world upside down. It is a void that will never be filled.
“I have been moved by the many messages of support and condolences I have received and the kind things people have said about Cyrille as a person and a professional.
“He came into football the hard way and never lost his passion for the game. He was a role model for so many because he always treated everyone he met with kindness and respect.”
Tributes were also paid on Twitter by former clubs and people from throughout the world of football and beyond.
— Coventry City (@Coventry_City) January 15, 2018
It is with huge sadness that we hear of the death of our former striker, Cyrille Regis…
RIP Big Cyrille – a true football icon
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) January 15, 2018
Heavy heart this morning, just heard that Cyrille Regis has passed away age 59. 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. A humble man and a great man.#RIPC
— Brighty (@Mark__Bright) January 15, 2018
Saddened to hear that Cyrille Regis has passed away. A tremendous striker and fine man whose legacy goes beyond the game, helping to pave a way for black footballers in this country. #RIPCyrille
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) January 15, 2018
Devastated this morning my hero my pioneer the man behind the reason I wanted to play football has passed away ? my heart goes out to all his family RIP Cyrille Regis pic.twitter.com/145idFZopb
— Andrew Cole (@vancole9) January 15, 2018
Cyrille Regis has died. Can’t believe it. A footballing trailblazer along with Brendon Batson and Laurie Cunningham. ‘The Three Degrees’ paved the way for black footballers in this country. One of the finest centre-forwards of his day. RIP
— Jason Pettigrove (@jasonpettigrove) January 15, 2018
Peter Reynolds, Pundit Arena