Sheffield to pay tribute to inspirational black footballer Cyrille Regis

The life of inspirational black footballer Cyrille Regis – who fought racism and helped change football –  will be celebrated at a special event this weekend.

Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 8:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 9:02 am
Crystal Palace keeper Paul Barron (left) saves from Cyrille Regis of West Bromwich Albion. Picture: PA.

The former West Bromwich Albion and Coventry striker was a pioneer for black footballers in the game when he played alongside Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson at The Hawthorns – known as The Three Degrees.

Football Unites, Racism Divides and Stand Up To Racism have jointly organised a tribute to former Cyrille with an anti-racist event in Sheffield on Sunday, February 24 – the day after West Brom take on Sheffield United at The Hawthorns – and just over a year since his untimely death.

Crystal Palace keeper Paul Barron (left) saves from Cyrille Regis of West Bromwich Albion. Picture: PA.

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The event will include three football tournaments – for seniors, women and under-18s – as well as talks and exhibitions at what football was like for black players in the 1970s and 1980s and how the courage and determination of Cyrille helped to change not just football but society itself.

Howard Holmes, of Football Unites, Racism Divides, said: “I am a Sheffield United fan and Phil Turner, of Stand Up To Racism, is a West Brom and it was his idea to do it the same weekend as the game.

“There is going to be three football tournaments, and then a programme of speakers and films and people reminiscing about his life.”

A poster advertising the event

Mr Holmes said there would also be an exhibition of newspaper cuttings from his time at West Brom and a talk from Brendon.

Cyrille’s daughter Michelle is also expected to attend.

Mr Holmes said: “He was one of the first black players that actually, by his actions, stood up to the racist atmosphere there was at the time.

“He played his match for West Brom at Rotherham United in the League Cup and they had only signed him the day before.

“On the matchday he was doing well and it got to 2-0 and West Brom got a penalty and all the crowd said: ‘Give it to Cyrille’ and he took it, scored, and then scored another goal after that.

“I think he was a very special person and his own fans got behind him and then he helped to change racism in football.”

Cyrille was born in he then French Guiana in February 1958, he moved to England with his family in 1963. After training as an electrician, he joined West Bromwich Albion from Isthmian League part-timers, Hayes for £5,000 in May 1977.

He was eligible to play for France or England and made his debut for England's under-21 team in 1978.

Cyrille went on to win 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 and died on January 14, 2018 at the age of 59.

The event will take place at the U-Mix Centre off Bramall Lane and kick-off at 2pm.

Confirmed speakers are Brendon Batson, Paul Rees, author of a book called The Three Degrees, Chris Green, co-author of Cyrille's biography My Story, and Steven Kay, author of a novel based on the life of Sheffield United player Rab Howell, the first Romany to play for England.

To find out more, contact Howard Holmes howard@furd.org or Phil Turner on phil.turner22@btinternet.com.