Pioneer, Cyrille, dies aged 59.

Pioneer, Cyrille, dies aged 59.

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A pioneer for Black footballers in the UK, alongside the late Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson, the trio was nicknamed the ‘Three Degrees’ by their then-West Bromwich Albion manager Ron Atkinson.

Cyrille Regis scored 112 goals in 297 appearances for the Baggies before joining Coventry City for £250,000 in 1984.

Appointed an MBE in 2008, the former England international, who also played for Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers, returned to West Brom as a coach before becoming a football agent.

He who won five caps, 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.

Former Manchester United and England defender Rio Ferdinand paid tribute to “a great man who helped to set the foundations for others. He will always be remembered.”

A gentle man away from football, such was his threat on the field, particularly when subjected to heavy physical attentions from opponents, that opposing managers used to specifically instruct their players not to upset him or annoy him in any way as the results could be devastating. In full flight, Regis was a magnificent sight.

Former Albion player, Jason Roberts, who is Regis’ nephew, once described his uncle as; “twice the player I was, twice better looking, and he always looked half my age.”

I look back at my uncle and have to say that he was lost to the game in terms of coaching, management or administration.”

Laurie Cunningham died in a car crash in Spain in 1989.

Regis, Cunningham and Batson are due to be honoured with a 10ft statue, called ‘The Celebration,’ in West Bromwich. It is set to be unveiled this season, following a delay.

Cyrille was 59

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