Cyrille Regis: More than a footballer

Today the football world mourned the death of former West Bromwich Albion and England forward Cyrille Regis.

Regis was only 59 and his death has led to plenty of heartfelt messages from players, past and current, alike about a man who helped changed the game off football massively.

Regis scored 112 goals in 297 appearances for West Brom, making him the club’s tenth all time top goalscorer, before moving to Coventry City for £250,000 in 1984.

However, while blessed with superb footballing ability Regis was best known for being a pioneer for black footballers in the English game.

Regis was on off three black players, the other two being Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson, to play regularly for Albion in the 70’s and 80’s; something which was unheard off back then, with racism a common thing upon the terraces.

This led to the trio getting booed and abused, with fans throwing banana’s at the players. However, this did not derail the trio, not especially Regis who won the PFA Young Player Of The Year award 1978 and the Goal of the Season award in the 1981-82 season for a long rang strike against Norwich City.

The trio became known as ‘The Three Degree’s’ and were part off an Albion side widely regarded as the best in it’s history, reaching two FA Cup semi-finals, a League cup semi-final, and finishing as high as third in the First Division.

Eventually the trio went their separate ways, with Cunningham joining Real Madrid and Regis joining Coventry City. Regis spent seven successful seasons at the Sky Blues, playing a key part in their 1987 FA cup win, before ending his career with stints at Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

He also gained five caps for England, becoming only the third black player to be capped by the Three Lions. His stunning career saw him score 158 goals in 614 games.

Regis though, will forever be remembered for helping pave the way for black footballers; and this was recognised in 2008 when he was awarded an OBE.

Regis helped change the game forever, due to his stunning ability with football and there is no doubt that his death will be a massive loss for football.