Sheffield celebrates life of inspirational black footballer Cyrille Regis
Dozens of people attended an event in Sheffield to pay tribute to the life of inspirational footballer Cyrille Regis who fought racism and helped change football.
Football Unites, Racism Divides and Stand Up To Racism organised the event on Sunday – which was held at the U-Mix Centre, near Bramall Lane – combining the tribute to the former West Bromwich Albion and Coventry striker with an anti-racist event.
The day included three football tournaments for seniors, women and under 18s, as well as talks and exhibitions of what football was like for black players in the 1970s and 1980s and how Cyrille’s courage and determination helped to change not just football but society itself.
Cyrille was a pioneer for black footballers in the game when he played alongside Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson at the Hawthorns - know as The Three Degrees.
Former Rotherham United Richard Finney, who played against Cyrille during his debut match with West Brom, spoke of Cyrille at the event, describing him as 'strong’ and ‘powerful’ with ‘a great touch’.
Howard Holmes, of Football Unites, Racism Divides, 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.
“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.