Pioneer black footballer Cyrille Regis dies aged 59

Cyrille Regis played 297 times for West Brom scoring 112 goal
Cyrille Regis played 297 times for West Brom scoring 112 goal

Cyrille Regis, the former West Brom and England forward, has died aged 59.

He scored 112 goals in 297 appearances for the Baggies before joining Coventry City for £250,000 in 1984.

He was a pioneer for black footballers in the game when he played alongside Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson at The Hawthorns.

His widow, Julia, described him on Monday as “a beautiful man and a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle.”

Regis, who was appointed an MBE in 2008, returned to West Brom as a coach before becoming a football agent.

In a tribute posted on West Brom’s website, Julia Regis continued: “Losing him has turned my whole world upside down. It is a void that will never be filled.

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“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.”

Regis is survived by two children Robert and Michelle and three grandchildren Jayda, Renée and Riley.

“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.”

Cunningham, Batson and Regis met their namesakes, pop group The Three Degrees, in 1979

The trio of Regis, Cunningham and Batson, nicknamed the Three Degrees by their then-manager Ron Atkinson, were subject to racist abuse from fans during the late 1970s.

They are due to be honoured with a 10ft statue, called The Celebration, in West Bromwich. It is set to be unveiled this season, following a delay.

At a preview of the structure in 2013, Regis said: “We were part of that first generation of black players in this country and I’m sure that if you ask any second generation player they will tell you they were inspired by Laurie. That’s why the statue will be so important.”

Cunningham died in a car crash in Spain in 1989.

Regis, who won five caps for England, scored 62 goals in 274 appearances for Coventry and was a crucial part of their FA Cup-winning side in 1987. He retired from football in October 1996.