Cyrille Regis: Pioneering black British footballer dies

A pioneer for black British footballers, who was sent a bullet in the post after he was selected to play for England,...

Posted: Jan 15, 2018 4:06 PM
Updated: Jan 15, 2018 4:06 PM

A pioneer for black British footballers, who was sent a bullet in the post after he was selected to play for England, has died at the age of 59.

Cyrille Regis, who was a striker, represented the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Coventry City and Aston Villa over the course of a 20-year playing career that began in the 1970s.

Cyrille Regis dies age 59

Regis played for England five times

He was also capped five times by England between 1982 and 1987.

The professional Footballers Association described Regis, who was widely reported to have died from a heart attack, as "a true gentleman and legend, he will be deeply missed" in a tweet Monday.

A statement by West Brom said Regis was "one of the great symbols of the fight against racism in Britain as a pioneer for black footballers across this nation and beyond."

West Brom chairman, John Williams, paid tribute to "a crusader against bigotry" and "a man who threw considerable energy into a series of worthy causes."

Regis was born in French Guiana but moved to London when he was just five.

He signed for Midlands club West Brom in 1977 where he had the most potent spell of his career, scoring 112 goals in 297 games.

It was there he played alongside two other black players, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson.

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

READ: Blaise Matuidi receives flood of support after alleged racist abuse

READ: Sulley Muntari would support player boycott in protest over racist abuse

Regis described some of that abuse in a recent interview with CNN.

"The worst for me was getting my first England cap and receiving a bullet through the post saying 'if you put your foot on our Wembley turf, you'll get one of these for your knees,'" Regis recalled.

"But in England I think we've come a long, long way from where we were in the seventies," he added.

He also described the introduction of the English FA's version of the "Rooney Rule" -- which would see at least one black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) applicant interviewed for future roles in the England national team system -- as something that would help more black people get into football management and administration.

Regis' manager at West Brom and Aston Villa, Ron Atkinson, spoke glowingly of his former player Monday.

"I've always said he was the best I've ever worked with," Atkinson told CNN.

"One travesty is he only ever got five international caps when he was worth a lot more than that," he added.

Atkinson gave a start to many aspiring black footballers in the 1970s and 80s but was accused of racism later in his career after making derogatory comments, for which he subsequently apologized, about former France international Marcel Desailly.

Atkinson said that the racism and abuse piled on Regis from hostile crowds never seemed to affect his performances.

"He just used to get on with it," Atkinson said. "Everybody seemed to admire the way he went about his business and the way he played."

Tributes to Regis also poured in on social media.

Coventry City, whom he helped to FA Cup glory in 1987, described Regis as a "legend" and a "hero."

Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands region that is home to West Brom, said Regis did "so much to blaze a trail for racial equality in football and will be missed."

Meanwhile, former Manchester United and England striker, Andrew Cole, tweeted that Regis was "the reason I wanted to play football."

Anti-racism charity Kick It Out said Regis was "a great supporter" of its work to tackle racism in football as well as "one of the first iconic black players of the professional game."

Regis is survived by two children Robert and Michelle and three grandchildren Jayda, Ren-e and Riley.

West Lafayette
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 75°
Kokomo
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 68°
Rensselaer
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Fowler
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 70°
Williamsport
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 73°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 69°
Frankfort
Scattered Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 69°
Delphi
71° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 71°
Monticello
71° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 71°
Logansport
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Warm Day, Record Warm Night, Then Showers & Storms Friday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 152396

Reported Deaths: 4023
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24905785
Lake13380352
St. Joseph8985161
Elkhart8530132
Allen7978222
Hamilton6000113
Vanderburgh567560
Tippecanoe358714
Monroe322238
Hendricks3221130
Johnson3051128
Porter303648
Clark289161
Delaware284574
Vigo256038
Madison232493
Cass222822
LaPorte220958
Warrick190065
Kosciusko179224
Floyd177367
Howard160066
Bartholomew139758
Dubois136726
Marshall134226
Henry123429
Grant122639
Wayne122127
Boone119548
Hancock115645
Noble114633
Jackson109413
Morgan93040
Dearborn92828
Daviess85333
Gibson84911
Clinton82916
Lawrence82634
Shelby80330
LaGrange77715
Harrison74824
Knox72110
Putnam71616
DeKalb69911
Posey6896
Fayette61417
Steuben6118
Miami5875
Montgomery57822
Jasper5744
White57215
Greene52137
Scott51013
Decatur49939
Adams4815
Whitley4426
Clay4396
Sullivan42913
Ripley4278
Wells4205
Wabash4029
Starke3977
Orange38825
Huntington3805
Spencer3746
Franklin36625
Washington3632
Jennings36013
Fulton3472
Randolph3439
Jefferson3305
Pike32915
Carroll31713
Perry29714
Jay2946
Fountain2883
Tipton27023
Vermillion2251
Newton22211
Parke2223
Rush2084
Owen2031
Blackford1983
Martin1960
Crawford1531
Pulaski1481
Brown1303
Ohio1247
Benton1080
Union1060
Switzerland900
Warren761
Unassigned0233

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events