Some of football’s leading figures descended onto West Bromwich Albion’s The Hawthorns to join members of the late Cyrille Regis and to play their part in the official launch of the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust and to unveil the flagship ‘Strike a Change’ mentoring programme launched in the name of the late former England international.
With former players, who were inspired by him, there to support the legend’s widow, Julia and brother, Dave, community trusts and foundations from all six West Midlands clubs (Albion, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Coventry City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Walsall) came together for a series of workshops, with local heroes sharing their knowledge and wisdom with more than 100 young people.
A two-year programme supporting 14 and 15-year-old disengaged students with a passion for football the scheme presents a unique opportunity to work across geographical boundaries and club rivalries.
“I didn’t realise I could have a career in football until I saw Cyrille,” said former England international Les Ferdinand – who is now director of football at QPR, the. “With that kind of impact he made on me, to see this programme coming to fruition is exactly what modern football needs.
“I hope they listen and be prepared to learn”, said former Wolves player Gavin Mahon.
James and Adam Chambers became the first twins to play for England and both recalled the impact Regis had on them as they made their way through the Albion ranks shortly during his time there: “Don’t worry about what you CAN’T do”, James said. “Concentrate on what you CAN do”!
Cyrille’s former teammate at Vila, Tony Daley, added: “His presence and integrity made a huge impact on me – during my playing career and my life in general, with his calmness making me feel relaxed through some of my dark days”.
“Think big and listen - especially to your parents” brother, Dave said. “Not every young person has a parent or family member to guide them through times of hardship.
“I’d like to express huge gratitude to all six clubs for coming together in Cyrille’s name for a programme of real meaning. It’s humbling. We’re truly honoured”.
“Mentoring was a passion for Cyrille”, Julia said. "It was the part of his job as an agent that he loved the most.
"So we thought what better way than to start the charity and a mentoring scheme."
"I would like to see all these young boys and girls dream big to believe in themselves and understand that they can achieve what they put their mind to achieve. I would like to see them inspired and to grow as individuals."
The ‘Strike a Change’ mentoring scheme provides a unique opportunity to work with young people across geographical boundaries and club rivalries, exploring major issues such as Equality, Mental Health and Social Responsibility.
The charity is focused on three areas Julia discussed with Cyrille before his sudden passing last year – grassroots football, breaking down barriers, and mentoring.