Embed from Getty Images
Cyrille Regis, indisputably a pioneer among black footballers, died on January 14, 2018, from a heart attack.
This former England striker was born in French Guiana and spent his initial few years there, but eventually, he had to move to England when his father migrated with rest of his family.
After his schooling at Cardinal Hinsley Math and Computing College, he was trained and worked as an electrician before he turned a professional footballer.
In between, he nurtured his interest and skills in football as an amateur, for Molesey and Hayes. While at Hayes, he was spotted and picked up for West Bromwich Albion by Ronnie Allen, former England striker and West Brom’s chief scout.
It was because of Allen’s persuasion that West Bromwich signed Regis.
From then onwards, there was no looking back as he marched on to glory, similar to how Daniel Negreanu conquered the hearts of poker enthusiasts.
Starting in 1977 when he arrived at Hawthorns, he actively pursued his professional football career until 1996 when he retired from big stage of football.
Regis played for West Bromwich Albion until the 1984-85 season, scoring 81 goals in 241 appearances. He made his arrival in the professional football arena felt by scoring twice in his debut match against Rotherham United.
His skill and passion for the game earned him England’s under-21 cap before receiving his first international cap in 1982 against Northern Ireland.
His ability is undeniable given the fact that he was just the third black player to get an England cap after the two greats: Viv Anderson and Laurie Cunningham.
From West Bromwich Albion, Regis moved to Coventry City in the 1984-85 season. For Coventry, he featured in 238 appearances and scored 47 goals.
After he moved out of Coventry City in 1990-1991, he had short spells at Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wycombe Wanderers, and Chester City until 1996.
But unfortunately, by the time he retired, he could play only five matches to represent his country due to various reasons.
He has impressive career stats, and as we all know, like in poker, stats don’t lie in football too. In total, he had 158 league goals and numerous assists against his name, from a total of 614 league appearances.
But still, in his case, as we — all his fans — know, his ability and skills were much greater than the stats indicate. No one would doubt his passion, agility, strength and skill. He always kept his cool on and off the field, and faced all adverse tackling with a smile, as if he was enjoying baccarat.
Post-retirement from active football, he was made a reserve team coach of West Bromwich. Later, he set himself up as a football agent and served as an ambassador for WaterAid before hewas made an MBE in 2008, recognizing his invaluable service.
Regis was equally a great person off the field as well. He inspired black players to take up the game and guided them well. His early demise has been a shock, and he’ll always be remembered not only as a pioneer black footballer but also as a great human being.